Thursday, June 4, 2009

John Nelson Varner, 91, of Shell Knob, passed away Friday, May 29, 2009, in Table Rock Healthcare, Kimberling City.

He was born Aug. 8, 1917, in Casa, Ark., to Sylvester Ellsworth and Alma Henrietta (Barnett) Varner. In February 1941, he was united in marriage to Mary Ann Elizabeth Mangold, who preceded him in death on May 29, 1975. He was also preceded in death by his parents, two sons, one brother, one sister and one great grandson.

Survivors include: nine children, Loretta (Gordon) Slater, of Shell Knob, Jessie (Darrell) Birch, of O'Fallon, Marvin (Cathy) Varner, of Valley Center, Kan., Pearlene Bunch, of Decatur, Ill., Nellie (Richard) Peck, of O'Fallon, Ill., Edward Varner, of Haslet, Texas, Patrick Varner, of Springfield, Patricia Savard, of Joplin, and Joseph Varner, of Ft. Worth, Texas; 20 grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; one step great-grandchild; a sister, Verniece Smith, of Forrest City; two brothers, Orval Varner, of Forrest City, Ark., and Robert (Gladys) Varner of Piggott, Ark.; and many nieces and nephews.

He served his country during WWII from 1942 to 1945, a sergeant in the 3017th AAF Base Unit, earning a Bronze Star for Air Offensive Europe GO 33 WD45, a Distinguished Unit Badge G050, Good Conduct Medal and a European-African-Middle Eastern Theatre Ribbon. He worked at McDonald Aircraft (now Boeing) in St. Louis after the war. He later moved his family to Chester, Ill., to accept a position as a guard at Menard State Penitentiary, eventually becoming the manager of the hog farm there. After he retired, he moved to Arkansas. Shortly after is 90th birthday, he moved to Shell Knob, where his daughter, Loretta, cared for him for 17 months.

His body was cremated under direction of Fohn Funeral Home, Shell Knob. A celebration of his life will be held at Stevens Funeral Home in Forrest City, AR on June 16.

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Shell Knob, Missouri