Anna Eileen Hughes Klebenow

Published 3:25 pm Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Anna Eileen Hughes Klebenow, of Knoxville, passed away Saturday, April 11, 2020, at home. A descendent of original Tennessee settlers, she was born at Johnson City in the Watauga Community in 1922. As a longtime resident of Knoxville, she was a founding member of the West Hills Community Association, serving for years as the community association’s vice president and being honored for her outstanding service to the association. She was also a former resident of Maryville, where her late husband, Donald L. Klebenow, was assigned to the Air Force as consultant to the Air National Guard before the couple moved to Knoxville.
She was preceded in death by her husband Don, who retired from a second career at Martin Marietta; her mother, Anna Belle Reynolds Hughes Watson; father, J.W. Hughes; step-father, Howard Watson; brother, William T. Hughes, a World War II veteran who served aboard minesweepers in the U.S. Navy Pacific campaign; half-sister, Florence Hughes Pickering; two half-brothers, Sherman Hughes and Raymond Hughes; beloved maternal aunts, Rose E. Reynolds, Ethelyne Reynolds Barlow Williams, Marjorie Reynolds Syms and Dorothy E. Reynolds; sister-in-law, June Frazier Hughes; nephews, Michael Winslow Hughes and Matthew C. Hughes; beloved cousins, Mrs. Carolyn Gail Barlow Hooks and Mrs. Rose Barlow Holley; niece, Deloris Craig; and step-brother Payton Watson, Kingsport, Tenn.
She is survived by her daughter, Anne Klebenow, Knoxville; niece, Michelle Hughes Benson Hunt and family, Nashville; nephews, William E. Hughes, Atlanta, David Hughes and family and Thomas A. Hughes, all of Nashville; sister-in-law, Jane Oswald and her husband, the Rev. Art Oswald, Sheboygan, Wis.; nephew, Ted Hughes, Johnson City; and nieces, JoAnn Campbell, Elizabethton, Anne Bender and Janice Price, both of South Carolina.
Known by her middle name, Eileen was recognized not only for her service to community and to those who needed help, but also known for her devotion to friends, her faith and family. She was a caregiver to her mother, husband, and two aunts. Among her volunteer work was coordinating the first St. Jude’s fundraising effort in Knoxville with the late St. Jude founder Danny Thomas, who recognized her efforts. Eileen was also a member of the city of Knoxville’s original committee to bring a World’s Fair to the city.
She was a member of the Bearden United Methodist Church and the Daughters of the American Revolution, Bonnie Kate Chapter, as well as a former president of the West Knoxville Republican Women’s Club, and once named Knox County Republican Worker of the Year. Her ancestry included original Tennessee settler Col. John Tipton, a member of the Constitutional Convention in 1776 who led a company in the American Revolution and built a home in Johnson City in 1784 (today this is a state historic site known as the Tipton-Haynes Home). After the Civil War her great-grandfather settled in Watauga as a teacher/writer, living to be one of the State of Tennessee’s oldest Civil War veterans. One of his sons was among the first residents of Palm Beach, Fla., where two family members became mayors and helped grow the city. From Watauga, her grandfather later fought in the Spanish-American War. The family also helped establish the Watauga Methodist Church, remaining members until the church closed.
Eileen graduated from Johnson City’s Science Hill High School, attended Johnson City Business College and was later employed at the Kingsport Press. She also studied music at East Tennessee State University. At the onset of World War II, however, she served that war effort as a member of the Women’s Army Corps, Air Force branch. She subsequently met and married her husband Don, an Air Force command pilot at the time. Later spending three years in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during her husband’s assignment to the US Embassy there, she learned to speak fluent Portuguese and became president of the American Wives Club. After her husband’s subsequent assignments at military bases in Hawaii, Florida, Minnesota, Missouri and Virginia and his retirement from the Air Force, the family settled in Maryville and then Knoxville. In most locations where the family lived, Eileen did volunteer work including that of a Girl Scout leader and Sunday School teacher.
Interment will be in Johnson City at Monte Vista Memorial Park beside her husband and featuring military honors. Eulogy will be given by Congressman John J. Duncan Jr. and the Rev. Michael Lester, Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church, Johnson City, will preside. Honorary pallbearers will include David Hughes, Thomas A. Hughes, William E. Hughes and Wesley Benson. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Bearden United Methodist Church, 4407 Sutherland Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37919 or the Humane Society of the Tennessee Valley, 6717 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919. To watch the live service stream, which will be broadcasted on Friday at 1 p.m., please click below:
Arrangements by Rose Mortuary Mann Heritage Chapel. Condolences may be offered to the family at

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