Cover photo for Gwendolyn Wallace's Obituary
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1926 Gwendolyn 2021

Gwendolyn Wallace

November 21, 1926 — July 25, 2021

Gwendolyn Wallace, 94, of Johnson City, passed away peacefully on Sunday, July 25, 2021, at Johnson City Medical Center following a brief illness.

She was born November 21, 1926, in Johnson City, delivered into this world by Dr. Ward Friberg at the old Appalachian Hospital. Her parents were Fitzhugh Lee and Margaret Tucker Wallace.

She started school at New Martha Wilder (which became Annie Wilder Stratton), transferred to Old Martha Wilder (currently North Side), then to the “training school” (now University School). She graduated from Science Hill High School. Her higher education included Stephens College, Emory University, and the University of Tennessee, where she earned a doctorate writing a dissertation about children’s books.

After graduating from college, she taught in several schools across Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and New York before becoming a children’s book editor at Viking Press in New York City.

Her education and career took her away for 30 years before she settled back in East Tennessee. Gwen lived in Greeneville while teaching at Tusculum College before moving to Johnson City to join the family’s business, Summers Hardware and Supply Company.

Gwen was a first-rate cook, a New York Times crossword puzzle enthusiast, a painter, and a life-long student of French. She greatly admired the arts and, combined with her interest in French, created her e-mail address and license plate tagline BOZART - a nod to Beaux-arts. She loved traveling with family and friends, both internationally and stateside, and especially enjoyed trips to her beloved NYC and The Thousand Islands, NY, with good friends. Gwen took joy in entertaining, having good conversation, and making new friends wherever she went. As one person said, “Gwen’s good company!”

Gwen’s experiences from her years in New York City in the 1960s changed her life significantly. She highlighted these experiences in her book, which she completed during the pandemic while recovering from surgery in a rehab clinic. In Leaving Home, published in March 2021, she writes a moving and often amusing tale to which many raised in small southern towns will relate. Gwen wrote this book as a gift to her friends and family, to let them in on a small part of her life that impacted her choices.

Gwen was a member of Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church, the ETSU Foundation, Fortnightly and Questers Book Clubs, and the JC Junior League. She served on the boards of the Johnson City Medical Center and the James Agee Film Project.

In addition to her parents, she is preceded in death by a brother, Fitzhugh Lee Wallace, Jr., his wife, Peggy, and nephew, Robert.

She is survived by nephews Hugh Wallace (Margaret), Limestone, and John Wallace (Lorrie), Birmingham, AL; niece Margaret Wallace Heard (Tony), Nashville; great-nieces and nephews: Joseph Wallace (Emily); Christina W. Thomas, Tucker Wallace, and Laura W. Cleage (Jasper); Robert, Emily and Allison Heard and great-great nieces and nephews Piper and Tallulah Wallace; Tristan, Gareth, and Lily Thomas; Sara, Elijah and August Cleage; Peggy and Lee’s former daughter-in-law Leslie Thomas Currin, Stoneville, NC and Peggy’s sister, Bobbie Sneed, Montrose, CO; as well as many dear friends.

A graveside service will be held at 10 AM on Saturday, October 30, 2021 at Monte Vista Memorial Park. Please meet at the cemetery by 9:50 AM.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Gwendolyn Wallace, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, October 30, 2021

Starts at 10:00 am (Eastern time)

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