Stanley L Underwood left this world Monday, March 22, 2021 the same way he lived in it for 81 years: HIS way. After overcoming Perthes’ Disease at age 12, he went on not only to walk again, but to run with every aspect of his life. With his multiple degrees, he worked at NASA, taught at Holston High School, was an insurance adjustor as well as several other jobs, but the happiest part of his “work” life was after he retired at age 50. He became a “kept man”, relishing his role as Shirley’s “errand boy”. He worked cleaning trails along the Appalachian Trail with the U. S. Forest Service, soon becoming a trail leader. He began working with the Knoxville Track Club, became a track official and helped build the UT Track Officials Association into one of the strongest in the country. Officials soon viewed being invited to work the Sea Ray Relays, now known as the Tennessee Relays to be an honor on par with working the national championships. He proudly served as an official at numerous NCAA Championships, the Olympic trials in 2000, 2004 & 2008 and was honored to serve the track and field program at his alma mater, East Tennessee State University. His reputation as a stickler for the rule book was well known, but he always erred on the side of the competitor. He pushed everyone he cared about to think outside their box, read and educate themselves and enjoy life. If he pushed you, he cared about you. This spirit garnered him countless awards and accolades, including being inducted into the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame for his work as an official and building programs in the area. It also garnered him his most treasured award: SOB of the Year from the Holston High School class of 1965. An inveterate storyteller, he captured every room with his wit, sarcasm and ability to make any situation lighter and usually downright fun. He had a story for every situation. With a sense of humor all his own, he endeared himself to those around him. Only he could tell the world his niece was ready to “pull the plug” on him and be met with roaring laughter. He loved his family, life, reading, mountains, hiking, traveling, his “grands” and speaking his mind with flair. He could quote a line from a poem, song lyric or book he read 50 years ago or have a rarely used word to fit whatever conversation was at hand.
However, when asked what he felt was his greatest accomplishment, he replied, “Our marriage.” In a love story sparked by, of course, a smart aleck comment, he embarked on a lifelong adventure to show the world what true love really looks like and succeeded beyond words. From the beginning to the current pause, everyone who ever met them or heard him talk about Shirley, knew that they were in the presence of “magic”. He was a romantic beyond belief and they “did it right”. There were no regrets in their marriage and life together. Literally, to the very end, he took care of everything to make sure Shirley did not have to worry over it. Their love story will never end.
Preceded in death by his parents Stanley M. Underwood and Lena Bales Underwood, in-laws Hugh and Garnie Collins and sister-in-law Glenn Ellen Underwood.
Stanley left the love of his life, Shirley, brother Glyn & wife Vella Underwood, sister Tresa & husband Wade Miller, nephew Conley & wife Regina Underwood, niece Carol & husband John Wilson, special cousin Patsy Lanigan, and treasured grands: Taylor Thomas, Ashley Underwood, Samuel Thomas, Abbey Underwood and Piper Wilson to carry out his instructions for their lives and his. Per his request, nay, decree, there will be no service. If you would like to share a “Stanley story” with the family, and we hope you will, please send them to Storiesaboutstanley@gmail.com.
Monetary donations may be made to Remote Area Medical 2200 Stock Creek Blvd. Rockford, TN 37853 in his honor.
Donations of blood and platelets, which are what gave us more precious time with him, may be made to Medic Regional Blood Center in his name.
Or, per his request, you may honor him by performing a random act of kindness in his memory.
(This tribute brought to you lovingly and by specific request from Stanley by Carol Underwood Wilson. I could have written volumes more…)
Gentry Griffey Funeral Chapel is honored to serve the Underwood family and invites you to view and sign the online registry.