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Obit – Eld. Charles Allen Gentry

If any person ever exemplified integrity, honesty, and respect in Smith County, those characteristics were what described the life of Eld. Charles Allen Gentry.

Bro. Gentry passed from his earthly life to eternity surrounded by his family at the home of his daughter Julie at 5:26 a.m. on Thursday morning July 13, 2023 following months of declining health. He was pronounced deceased at 7:05 a.m. by Gentiva Hospice of Cookeville who had been assisting the family with his care.

Funeral services from his beloved North Carthage Baptist Church, where he served as the pastor for almost fifty years, was conducted Sunday afternoon July 16th at 3 p.m. Jacky Carver Sr. delivered the eulogy and church pastor Eld. Anthony Dixon officiated. Burial followed beside his wife in the Garden of Gethsemane at the Smith County Memorial Gardens with Bro. Zary Shealy officiating.

The visitation for Bro. Gentry was held at the North Carthage Baptist Church on Saturday July 15th from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. and on Sunday from 1 p.m. until the funeral service at 3 p.m.

Walter Clark McKinney of the Ligon and Bobo Funeral Home in Lebanon and a member of North Carthage assisted with the conducting of the services.

Much of his declining health came about after the loss of his soul-mate of almost sixty years, Bobbye Glenda “Miss Puddin” Angel Gentry, to whom he was wed at the home of her uncle, Eld. Arthur Angel in the Hogans Creek Community on August 17, 1963 when she was only 16 years old and a junior at Smith County High School and where she graduated in the class of ’65. Miss Puddin died December 13, 2022 at the age of 75. 

He was born Charles Allen Gentry in the Helms Bend Community on November 30, 1942 and was one of four children, three sons and a daughter of the late Charles Washington Gentry who died January 1, 1971 at the age of 58 and Erma June Vaden Gentry who died August 6, 2007 at the age of 92.

A brother, Ray Arnold Gentry, preceded Bro. Gentry in death at the age of 67 on November 18, 2015. 

Bro. Gentry was a member of the 1961 graduating class at Smith County High School where he majored in Commercial and Social Studies and was a member of the chorus and Spanish club. It was stated of him in the annual; “Of good beginning, cometh a good end.”

At his 50 year class reunion on April 30, 2011, his fellow classmates paid tribute to his long storied life as a pastor and admired gentleman of the community by pastoring, visiting the sick in hospitals and nursing homes, whether they were members of his church or acquaintances. 

He was also presented a proclamation from then Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam acknowledging all of his service to the residents of Smith County and his untiring efforts as a Missionary Baptist Minister and Pastor and the respect he enjoyed from everyone with whom he came in contact with.

He was saved at the age of eleven on September 18, 1954 and was baptized into the full fellowship of the Caney Fork Missionary Baptist Church by Eld. H. C. Vanderpool.

Bro. Gentry stated he first heard the divine call to the ministry at the tender age of 15 and at the age of 17 he was ordained into the full work of the ministry on May 19, 1960 also at the Caney Fork Missionary Baptist Church, where he retained his membership until his death.

His first call to pastor was at the Cave Springs Missionary Baptist Church in

 Dekalb County. Everyone can agree that he has served with faithfulness, energy, intelligence, imagination and love ever since beginning sixty three years ago.

Having kept meticulous records, he performed 1269 weddings and the first one was on Saturday June 3, 1961 when he joined in Holy Matrimony James Wendell Williams and the late Roberta Harris Williams and the last wedding he performed was for his niece Davina Watts and James Reed at his house in his pajamas on September 25, 2022.

When death occurred in many families, it mattered not their religious preference, they wanted Eld. Charles Allen Gentry to speak the last words over their loved one.

On May 26, 2006, he stood in the Saint Francis Cabrini Catholic Church in Lebanon and eulogized J. C. Rankin. No one has ever known, before or since, a Protestant preacher to deliver a message of hope in a Catholic Church.

The 1900th funeral he conducted was on August 4, 2004 for Carthage Fire Chief Edward Stallings who died in a fire at the former Carthage Christian Church and his 2000th funeral was Mrs. Gertrude Whittemore which he conducted November 7, 2006. 

On November 27th, James Robert Bass, Jacky Sr. and Jerry Claiborne presented, at the end of the morning church service at North Carthage, a plaque to Bro. Gentry to commemorate the 2,000th funeral.

Bro. Gentry conducted 2301, funerals, the last chapel funeral being for Dewey King Knight on December 19, 2019, and his last funeral conducted was a graveside service for his son Chuck’s Mother-in-law, Donna Wilson on June 1, 2022.

In addition to pastoring North Carthage, he simultaneously pastored the Green Valley Missionary Baptist Church for thirty one years from May of 1989 until the spring of 2020.

The North Carthage Christian Women’s group paid special tribute to their beloved pastor with Thanksgiving Appreciation Day which was held Sunday November 24, 1996.

Bro. Gentry wanted some of the church pastors that had a great influence on his life mentioned in his obituary. They were first of all, the late Eld. Phocian Gibbs who himself conducted just over 2,000 funerals and who mentored Bro. Gentry in his young days as a pastor, the late Eld. Walter Deweese, the late Eld. H. C. Vanderpool, the late Eld. R. D. Brooks, the late Eld. Jackie Wilburn and a dear friend with whom he had been closely associated with in the pastorate, Eld. James Thomas Gibbs, with whom he has conducted many funerals and revivals.

Bro. Gentry has conducted over three hundred revivals and by his estimation he had preached over 14,000 sermons. 

When ask how he performed so many weddings, he would state that they would go to the courthouse and get their wedding license and then come to the D.T. McCall & Sons store, where he was employed as a salesman until his retirement in 2013, and they would go to the back of the store and he would perform the ceremony. Bro. Gentry said he would many times get whoever was not busy to be the witness. But he said, an advantage he had, was many times they would come back and buy everything needed to furnish their homes with furniture and appliances from him at McCalls.

Surviving in addition to his thousands of friends are Charlie and Miss Puddin’s three children, Gina Gentry Morris and husband Tom of the Tanglewood Community, Julie Gentry Kitchen and husband Chris of Carthage, Chuck Gentry and wife Sabra of South Carthage; five grandchildren, Charlie Beth Gentry, Chloe Addison Kitchen, Kobe Bryce Kitchen, Ella Kate Gentry and Agnes Beth Gentry; sister, Katie Gentry Watts of the Chestnut Mound Community; brother, Bobby Gentry and wife Peggy Thomas Gentry of the Pigeon Roost Community.

There is a verse that sums up Bro. Gentry’s life:

Proverbs 22:1, A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver or gold.


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