Eugene "Gene" Vaughn, 81, died peacefully in his sleep Monday May 5, 2014 following a five-month struggle with pancreatic cancer. His wife of nearly 63 years, Olive was at his side. Eugene was the number eight child of 16, so it was joked they had run out of names, and that's why he had no middle name. He was born October 7, 1932 to C. D. and Virgie Vaughn in southwest Mississippi County and attended local schools. Eugene left home and joined the Army when he was 15. He had said he wanted to get out of the cotton patch. Six months later, after a bout of homesickness, he wrote his older sister Mildred, who let the Army know his true age. He was released, came home and graduated from Missco High School. Eugene was widely known by his childhood---and appropriate--nicknames "Tuff" or "Tuffy".
High-school sweethearts, Eugene and Olive Jackson were married August 28,1951. They had the humblest of beginnings. At their wedding, Eugene had $20 in his pocket, a 12 gauge shotgun at home, lots of love and little else. They lived in a two-room house on the side of Little River near Dyess with an outhouse and no plumbing, but they were blessed and life, while not always easy, was good, as it tends to be for true soul mates that are smiled on from Above. Following the birth of their first child, Mark, ten months later, the couple moved to Etowah, where Eugene began work in his father-in-law's store. During the following few years, one of his skills became evident: he was a gifted salesman.
In 1955 he was drafted into the Army and served a tour of duty in Newark, New Jersey. After his discharge in 1957 (he got credit for his time served at 15), Gene and Olive moved to Lepanto, where he was employed in sales by Portis Dry Goods. His sales abilities did not go unnoticed and two years later he began selling cars for Portis Motor Co. in Lepanto. He soon became manager of both the Lepanto and Marked Tree Ford dealerships.
In 1975, a life-long dream of becoming a business owner came true. Eugene was able to buy the dealerships he had managed, and established Vaughn Ford. Sixteen years later, he purchased the Chevrolet dealership in Marked Tree. In 2007, he moved Holly Chevrolet to Marion. He loved his businesses and his employees, often telling his family that there was never a day that he did not look forward to going to work.
During this time his family grew. Philip and Holly were born after Mark. They have five grandchildren. Son Mark (wife Robyne), is an engineering professor at Texas Tech and is the father of three daughters, Anna Coventry-Arredondo, Sarah Porter and Clara Vaughn; Philip (wife Heather), is a writer in Santa Barbara, Cali. and the father of one daughter, Taylor Vaughn; and Holly Lancaster (husband Lannie who manages Holly Chevrolet) of Marion is the mother of a son, Jackson Lancaster. Gene and Olive have one great-grandson, Anna's son Grayson Coventry.
Eugene possessed remarkable honesty and integrity in a business where honesty and integrity are usually not expected. He had a simple and quantifiable measure of a persons' worth: would they do what they said they would do. If they did, they were worthy of respect; if not, they weren't. This measure was applied uniformly and consistently, regardless of social status, race, religion, or any other indicator. Although outwardly gruff, he had a heart for people, especially those in his family, those who worked for him, and those in need. He wanted all who he contacted to prosper, and he was quick to offer help when he perceived a need. His generosity was applied liberally, but confidentially. Although he never bragged, or even revealed who he helped, others have made the family aware of Gene's frequent acts of kindness.
Eugene lived a full life that impacted an extraordinary number of people. Last fall he commented that he was very satisfied with life and the ride that he had. It was fitting; he had come a long way. His family, friends, co-workers (who were also friends) the Razorbacks and his tractors all brought him great joy.
The funeral service was held May 10 at the Marion United Methodist Church in Marion.
The family is grateful for the excellent care given by the staff of the Trinity Hospice House in Collierville Tenn. and the prayers and support of friends in the community. Memorials may be sent to First Baptist Church in Marked Tree or Marion United Methodist Church in Marion.
Services by Roller-Citizens Funeral Home of West Memphis, Arkansas
On-line guestbook at www.rollerfuneralhomes.com