Florence Helen Shoopman Fetzer

Published 1:25 pm Tuesday, April 30, 2024

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Florence Helen Shoopman Fetzer, 105, of Elizabethton, Tennessee, went to be with her Lord on April 26, 2024, at Ivy Hall Nursing Home in Elizabethton.

Helen was born January 2, 1919, in Campbell County, Tennessee, to Obes (O. B.) and Winnie Mae George Shoopman. After graduation at age 16 from Jacksboro High School in 1935, she earned a teaching certificate from Carson-Newman College in 1938. She was principal and teacher at the one-teacher Stoney Point Elementary School in Knox County, teaching grades 1-8 when she was 19 years old. She continued teaching in Knox County until 1942 when she was among the first women to enlist in the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC), later Women’s Army Corps (WAC). After completing basic training in Fort Des Moines, Iowa, Helen was assigned to military intelligence in Washington, DC, and was honorably discharged as a Staff Sergeant in 1945 at the end of World War II.

Helen married John Woodrow Fetzer on July 18, 1945, at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D. C. Following the wedding John and Helen returned to Tennessee where she completed her B. S. In Education from the University of Tennessee in August 1947. As their family began to grow, Helen taught for a year in Johnson City schools, completed her Master’s degree in 1953 at East Tennessee State College, and began teaching in Carter County schools first at Gap Creek, and then Hunter, and Unaka Elementary Schools. She later served about four years as Supervisor of Instruction for Carter County schools.

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For seven years Helen worked at the Dunbar Service Center in Johnson City as a Curriculum Consultant for a Title VI Federal project administered by the Johnson City school system in cooperation with 22 other Tennessee school districts to develop curriculum for children with special needs. Upon completion of the project, Helen returned to teaching first grade at Keystone Elementary School in Johnson City until her retirement in 1982.

Helen has been a faithful member of East Side Baptist Church in Elizabethton since 1948. For many years she taught Sunday School to adult women and served as well in the children’s department. She was a member of the American Legion for 45 years, the Carter County/Elizabethton Retired Teachers’ Association, and the Disabled American Veterans’ Auxiliary.

Helen was preceded in death by her parents O. B. And Winnie Mae Shoopman; her husband of 66 years, John W. Fetzer; her siblings and their spouses, Charles (Mary Nell) Shoopman, Harold (Vivian) Shoopman, Lucille (Morton) Newell, and Nadine (Edward) Underwood; two of her children, Dr. John W. Fetzer, Jr., and Dr. Daniel T. Fetzer; and two of her grandchildren, Carol and Rachel Fetzer.

Helen is survived by a daughter, Marie (Bob) Bryant, and a son, Robert “Bobby” Fetzer; and two daughters-in-law Beth Fetzer and Rose Ann Fetzer. Her surviving grandchildren are Sherry Fetzer, Angela (Mitch) Adorante, Catherine (Jon) McStay, Lara (Tom Lindo) Bryant, Justin (Emily) Bryant, Heather Midyette, Christina Head, and Ellie Fetzer. She is survived by great-grandchildren Parker, Mariah, and Gavin Midyette; Jamesen, Dyllen, and Benjimen Bryant; Katie Branson; Brittany Burroughs; Jacob (Madison) Burroughs; and Katelyn and Bella Van Amburg. She has one great-great-grandchild, Aubrey Burroughs.

The family will receive friends from 1:00-3:00 on Friday, May 3, at Memorial Funeral Chapel in Elizabethton, Tennessee. The service will follow at 3:00 with Rev. Ann Myers and Rev. Tim Adkins officiating.

Graveside services with military honors will be conducted at the Benton Town Cemetery in Benton, Tennessee, at 3:00 PM on Saturday, May 4. Preceding the service, the family will receive friends from 1:30 to 2:30 pm at Higgins Funeral Home in Benton. Pallbearers will be Justin Bryant, Parker Midyette, Gavin Midyette, Jim Rogers, Samuel Rogers, Joe Fetzer, Frank Underwood, Bill Underwood, Chuck Shoopman, Steve Shoopman, David Rogers, and Ben Rogers.


The family is deeply grateful for the devoted caregivers who have cared for Helen for so many years: Edna and Jack Smith, Sam and Mabel Irwin Rogers, and Tina Wiggins. They are our family. Other special lifelong friends are Bill and Ann Myers, Susan and Larry Keebler, Richard and Ken Dugger, Bill Carter, Gary Elliott, Sandy and Bill Miller, Anne Banks Kitchens, Frank and Merry Schaff, and Sue Harkleroad. The family appreciates the staffs at Ivy Hall Nursing Home and The Waters of Roan Highlands, who lovingly cared for her. The family also appreciates the care Helen and John both received at the Mountain Home VA Medical Center.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be given to East Side Baptist Church, 1509 Siam Road, Elizabethton, TN 37643; Carson-Newman University Alumni Fund, C-N Box 71988, Jefferson City, TN 37760; Friends of the Elizabethton Public Library, 201 N. Sycamore Street, Elizabethton, TN 37643; Disabled American Veterans’ Auxiliary, c/o Debbie Williams, 115 Danner Road, Elizabethton, TN 37643; or a charity of the donor’s choice. Condolences may be sent to the family at our website, www.memorialfcelizabethton.com.

Memorial Funeral Chapel is serving the Fetzer family.