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Merle Lynn Hensley Woodruff

Merle Lynn Hensley Woodruff, went to join the Heavenly choir on Tuesday, October 26, 2021, at Johnson City Medical Center. She was born in Kingsport, TN on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1937, to the late WS and Goldie Blanche (Shaffer) Hensley, of Benhams, VA.  Her father was an engineer for the Clinchfield Railroad, CSX Erwin, 1939.  She graduated from Unicoi County High School in 1954.  In school she was talented in music and drama.  She played the leading role, opposite her future husband, Johnny H. Woodruff, in the debut of “Over the Mountain Boys,” written by Erwin’s own Pat Alderman.  In 1953 she was crowned Miss Erwin.  Throughout her life, Lynn has been a member of Centenary United Methodist Church.

John and Lynn Woodruff moved to Morristown, TN, where they began to raise their family.  Both she and Johnny were very active in the Morristown chapter of the Jaycees.  In 1963-64, she was Vice-President of the Jaycettes.

In 1967, John’s job took them to Charlotte, NC.  While in Charlotte, Merle Lynn remained active with her singing career with such groups as the Charlotte Choral Society, the Charlotte Oratorio Singers, the Strolling Minstrels, and many churches across Charlotte.  She graduated from Queens College in 1978 and began working as a Paralegal Secretary for the Dozier, Miller and Pollock Law Firm in Charlotte. She served as the organist for Temple Israel for many years.  Lynn had a love for traveling and traveled to Israel many times.  Lynn remained in Charlotte until John’s death and then moved back to her family home in Erwin, where she enjoyed reconnecting with many of her childhood friends.  She also loved camping, sports, the beach and turtle watching, reading and spending time with her family and friends.  

In addition to her parents, Merle Lynn is preceded in death by her husband, John Harold Woodruff, the son of the late EE and Frankie Woodruff; her son, David Alan Woodruff; sister, Sula Jane Inklebarger; and brother, Carl “Lefty” Hensley.

Merle Lynn Hensley Woodruff leaves behind to cherish her memory: Daughters: Robin Woodruff Harrill (Steve), of Salisbury, NC; Terri Woodruff, of Columbia, SC; and Jane Frances Woodruff Thompson (Todd) of Advance, NC; Daughter-in-law: Deborah Ann Goodman Woodruff, of Denver, NC; Grandchildren: Nathan Thomas Harrill and Jonathan David Connolly; Great-grandchildren: Caroline Jane Harrill and Ryan Michael Connolly; and several nieces, nephews and cousins.

The family respectfully requests the honor of your presence as we offer tribute and celebrate the life of Merle Lynn Hensley Woodruff in a committal service to be held at 1:00 pm on Saturday, November 13, 2021 in Evergreen Cemetery, 1100 7th Street, Erwin, TN.  Pastor Rollo Leiner, of Resurrection Church in Charlotte, NC; Pastor Kim Isley, of Centenary United Methodist Church in Erwin, TN; and Dr. Karl Coke, KCM, will officiate. Those who wish to attend the committal service, should meet at Evergreen Cemetery by 12:50 pm on Saturday, November 13, 2021.  

The family requests that all COVID-19 protocols be practiced.  For those that may come in from out of town, a block of rooms will be reserved under the Woodruff name at the Mountain Inn and Suites, 2002 Temple Hill Road, Erwin, TN (423) 743-4100

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to Centenary United Methodist Church, 203 N Elm Avenue, Erwin, TN 37650, or to the charity of your choice.  

Condolences and memories may be shared with the family and viewed at or on our Facebook page at Valley Funeral Home. These arrangements are made especially for the family and friends of Merle Lynn Hensley Woodruff through Valley Funeral Home, 1085 N. Main Ave., Erwin, 423-743-9187.