Karen Wells Manley

January 16, 1943 ~ July 20, 2019

Born in: Henderson, NC
Resided in: Johnson City, TN

Karen Wells Manley, 76, passed away at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday, July 20, 2019, after being surrounded by her loving family throughout her final days.

Karen was born in Henderson, North Carolina, to BC and Alma Wells and was the youngest of three children. She graduated from Henderson High School and studied at Wake Forest School of Medicine where she earned her nursing degree. In 1963 Karen married Wilford (Will) C. Manley Jr. of Ft. Meade, Florida, whom she met while serving in a mission church that Will pastored while he was a student at Southeastern Theological Seminary.

Karen was a superb and irreplaceable wife, mother, and grandmother and a model of Christian love and service. Over the course of her lifetime she cared deeply for her family and friends as well as directed adult education at First Baptist Church, Greenville, South Carolina; served as minister to children at First Baptist Church, Greer, South Carolina; founded CenterQuest, an after-school ministry to children in Greer, South Carolina; served several terms and as chair of the Connie Maxwell Children’s Home in Greer, South Carolina; served as a consultant to two churches in Greenville, South Carolina; directed women’s ministry for the South Carolina Baptist Convention, Discipleship Department; and directed a retirement home in Greenville, South Carolina. Karen was also a member of the Johnson City Symphony Guild; a member of the Johnson City Monday Club; a member of Central Baptist Church, Johnson City; enthusiastically involved in promoting the arts in the schools through poetry contests and the musical instrument petting zoo; and devoted to both foreign and local mission work. Karen resided with Will at their home in Johnson City, Tennessee, during the past twenty years of her life, where they enjoyed the unfolding four seasons and views of the Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee mountains.

Karen is survived by her husband, Will; sons Graham (Sloan) and Ethan (Emily); daughter Jennifer (Ansel); grandchildren Jake, Henry, Sarah, Camille, Jack, Charlie, and Keller;
brother Dewey Wells; sisters-in-law Kay Manley, Jean Durrance, Janice Thompson, and Joann Wells; brothers-in-law Billy Thompson and Bobby Durrance; and many beloved nieces, nephews, and cousins.

Memorial services will be held at 2:00 pm on Saturday, August 3, at Central Baptist Church, Johnson City, Tennessee. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Heritage Hall fund of Central Baptist Church, Johnson City, Tennessee.


Memorial Service: August 3, 2019 2:00 pm

Central Baptist Church

Johnson City, Tennessee

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The family greatly appreciates donations made to these charities in Karen Wells Manley's name.

Central Baptist Church

300 N Roan St
Johnson City, TN

Memories Timeline


  1. C Dillard Alexander says:

    I am saddened to read of Karen’s passing. She and Will have had a great influence on my life and I will be indebted to them for as long as I live. She was a great person whose influence continues to affect the lives of those who knew her. May God comfort you.

  2. Marion and Jean Lark says:

    Sadden to learn of Karen’s death. In 1993 she went to Israel with a group from our church, First Baptist Henderson where she grew up. We had an informative and delightful time. We will remember in our prayers Will and family.
    Marion and Jean Lark

  3. Bob & Mary Brantley says:

    Wil, Ethan, Graham & Family, Please know how sad we are to learn of Karen’s passing. You are all in our prayers for your loss. Karen was an amazing person, who touched all of our lives. We
    will always remember her kindnesses, understanding, and support to our family in April, 2000, when we lost our son Jeff. We feel blessed to have known her. Please accept our most sincere sympathies and prayers, Bob & Mary, Kenneth & Jaileen Brantley

    We feel blessed to have known her. Please accept our

  4. Mary Brantley says:

    Deepest sympathies for the loss of this beautiful soul.

  5. Debbie McDowell says:

    What a Godly lady! I knew Karen while she was in South Carolina. Her love for missions, passion for making disciples, her deep care for others and her fun spirit are things I remember. Sending prayers and sympathy to her family and friends.

  6. Barbara M Brady says:

    Dear Manlley Family, Karen is a wonderful lady and neighbor. She always had a smile with kind words and very attentative in conversation. I was saddened to hear of her passing. She will be sorely missed. Prayers of strength for Will and family go out from Ron and Barbara Brady their neighbors.

  7. Pam Cashatt says:

    It was both an honor and privilege to serve with Karen while she was working with the SC Baptist Convention. She was so passionate about Women’s Ministry and inspired everyone she came in contact with because of her faith and caring spirit. She was a true joy to be around and I will always remember her infectious smile and sweet personality. My prayers and sympathy go to all her family and friends.

  8. Johnny Adams says:

    Karen was a great girl! I was a classmate from the 1st grade to the 12th grade. May she rest in peace.

  9. Will, Graham, Jennifer and Ethan, Even though I only knew your mother for just a short time; she touched my life in many everlasting ways. I feel blessed to have known her as well as meeting you all, even through this difficult time . My heart will stay with all of you !
    Blessings, Amy Cunningham

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