November 21, 2021
Mary Eleanor “Casey” Jones Pickle, 96, of Knoxville passed away at the beginning of a beautiful sunrise on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. It was perfect timing for the transition of an organist who had spent 70-some years starting the week by helping congregations worship God with a musical skill deeply entwined with her Christian faith. She was born Sept. 22, 1925, at Fort Sanders Hospital (now Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center) to Samuel Albert and Sadie Gordon Rudder Jones of Fountain City. She attended Fountain City Elementary School and graduated from Central High School. She began piano lessons in second grade with Bertha Price Perry, who introduced her to organ study in her sophomore year. Her first professional position was as organist at Central Baptist Church of Fountain City while still a teenager. At age 17, thanks to Perry, she was able to attend what turned out to be the final recital by famed pianist and composer Sergei Rachmaninoff on Feb. 17, 1943, at the University of Tennessee’s Alumni Memorial Gymnasium/Auditorium. After high school, she worked at Miller’s Music Shop as a pianist/salesperson while attending UT Knoxville, where she studied business. She transferred to Indiana University to pursue her music studies. Mary Eleanor returned to Knoxville and her position at Central Baptist after graduation. In 1952, she succeeded organist Carlotta Eppes at First Baptist, Knoxville, and at this time she received the AGO Associate certificate. A few months after her marriage to Marion M. Pickle Jr., which was officiated by Dr. Charles A. Trentham at First Baptist in May 1954, Mary Eleanor and her husband moved to New Jersey as Marion had taken a job with General Motors Acceptance Corp. in New York City. She served several months as organist at First Baptist, Bergenfield, and gave birth to her two oldest sons in New Jersey. The Pickles returned to Knoxville in June 1957, and during the next decade, in addition to having three more children, Mary Eleanor served as organist-director at First Cumberland Presbyterian and Eastminster Presbyterian churches. Over the years, she was accompanist for the Trio of Melody; the Knoxville Choral Society under director Edward H. “Pop” Hamilton; the Smithwood Choral Club under Mrs. Robert LaForge; and the Knoxville Women’s Chorus under Lelia Leslie and Ruth Love. She also accompanied in Mrs. Leslie’s voice studio. For several years, she accompanied the Holston High School chorus (under the direction of Albert Rule) for its Christmas and spring concerts in local churches. She returned to the First Baptist organ bench on Easter Sunday 1970, and eventually broke Mrs. Eppes’ 40-year record. On Aug. 14, 2011, Mary Eleanor gave a “Grand Retirement Recital,” and after more than 43 cumulative years as organist of First Baptist Church she retired Aug. 31, 2011. She was inducted into the Central High School Wall of Fame in 2015. Mary Eleanor Pickle was preceded in death by her parents; her beloved husband, Marion; brother and sister-in-law, James A. and Nena Jones of San Juan Capistrano, Calif.; sister-in-law Eleanor M. Pickle; and daughters-in-law Judith Mynatt Pickle and Maureen Roberson Pickle. She is survived by her children, Mac Pickle (Judy) of Louisville; Eddie Pickle (Megan) of Fairfax, Va.; Robert Pickle (Amy) and Betsy Pickle, both of Knoxville; and Joe Pickle (Lori Edwards) of Louisville; grandchildren Kyle (Brittany Bailey) of Maryville and Kathryn of Louisville; Rob (Hana Beckerle) of Arlington, Va., and Laura Avakian (Joel Cornett) of Reston, Va.; Greg (Tracee), Gary (Katie) and Eric (Brittany) of Knoxville and Annie of Nashville; and Destiny Edwards of Maryville; great-grandchildren Katrina and Kylie; Blake, Halle, Autumn and Taylor; Kinzer and Cooper; and Camellia; cousins Patricia Hackleman, Susie Luther (Ted), Tom Hackleman (Mimi), Marcia (Jeff) Van Dyke, Sarah Davis; and special friends Reba Haynes, Bobbye Hunter and Grady Renfro of Knoxville and Martha Wilcox of Alexandria, Va. The family would like to thank UT Home Health and Susan Bailey. On Sunday, Nov. 28, visitation (12:30 p.m.) and a funeral service (1:30 p.m.) officiated by Bob Hall, with musical direction by Eugene Hattaway, will be held at First Baptist Church, 510 W. Main St., Knoxville. A graveside service officiated by Greg Pickle will follow at 3 p.m. at Woodlawn Cemetery. Pallbearers will be Greg Pickle, Gary Pickle, Eric Pickle, Kyle Pickle, Blake Pickle and Robert Pickle. In lieu of flowers, Mary Eleanor requested donations to the First Baptist Church Music Ministry, St. Jude Children’s Hospital or the charity of your choice. Rose Funeral & Cremation Broadway is honored to serve the family of Mrs. Pickle. Online obituary may be viewed and condolences extended at www.rosefuneraltn.com.
Mary Eleanor “Casey” Jones Pickle, 96, of Knoxville passed away at the beginning of a beautiful sunrise on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. It was perfect timing for the transition of an organist who had spent 70-some years starting the week... View Obituary & Service Information
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