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25 Apr 2016

Longtime AAU volunteer passes

Longtime AAU volunteer passes

Jane Greer Puckett – May 24, 1922  - April 22, 2016
Tullahoma, Tennessee

Jane Greer Puckett of Tullahoma, TN passed away on April 22, 2016, at the age 93 due to conditions related to Lewy Bodies dementia. Her immediate and extended family and friends wish to send their many thanks and love to the dedicated staff and medical personnel at The Bridge at South Pittsburg, TN for their love and care over the last 4½ years.

Born on May 24, 1922, in Paris, TN to Hattie Lou Newell and William HalliBurton Greer, Jane HalliBurton Greer was a precocious, bright and very athletic child who loved gymnastics, basketball, tennis and her horses. She adored being the younger sibling to her devoted sister Kathryn Dunlap Greer. Not only excelling in all academics in public school, Jane was a stellar debater and was named “Wittiest” of her Grove High School Senior Class.

“From the Manhattan Project to the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame” is the headline of her life but her life encapsulated so much more. Her children, family and friends find it hard to describe her many accomplishments and her zest for life.

After attending Judson College in Marion, AL for two years she transferred to the University of Tennessee to enroll in engineering. Prohibited from the engineering curriculum due to gender policy she became the first to graduate from UT in business statistics. To help with the war effort she was hired as a mathematician-statistician for Clinton Engineering Works. With one of the highest clearance levels, she was the first to verify the production formula for U-235, the major component of the atomic bomb. Due to her work, she was featured in the bestselling book of 2013 “The Girls of Atomic City”.

In January 1947 she married James Beverly “Puck” Puckett, the handsome young Kentuckian she met her first day in Oak Ridge. They moved to Tullahoma in 1952 and raised three children. It was there that she began the second stage of her life and that was being a true Volunteer!

Her organizational and leadership skills were recognized early as the Tullahoma Jaycees honored her as “Citizen of the Year” in 1960. From 1953 to the time of her illness she held offices and long term involvement in the following organizations: Tullahoma Jr. Woman’s Club - President, AEDC Woman’s Club - President, Tullahoma DAR Chapter - Regent, Highland Rim Community Concert Association -Chair, March of Dimes - Chair, United Presbyterian Women - President and Church Circle Chair, Cub Scout Den Mother, Girl Scout Troop Leader, Girl Scout Day Camp - Coordinator, UT Coffee County Alumni Chapter - Secretary, Tullahoma Woman’s Club - Parliamentarian, National Churchmen’s Sports Hall of Fame committees, and the Tullahoma Fine Arts Center and Lakewood Country Club social and community committees.

Having two “water dog” sons and an athletic daughter, she, along with her husband, and three other Tullahoma couples founded the Tullahoma Swim Club in 1959. With this step in growing the Tullahoma community no one had any idea that her energy and vision would have lasting effects on the youth of Tullahoma, the State, the Region and the Nation through the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). From hosting three of the largest state swim meets in the early 1960’s, she and “Puck” became active in the Southeastern AAU (SEAAU) and the National AAU. They Co-chaired with Joel Ferrell of Tullahoma, the 2nd and 4th annual AAU Junior Olympic (JO) Games in Knoxville, TN. That event has grown from five sports to a truly multi-sport spectacle involving young athletes participating in more than thirty sports annually.

Jane was directly responsible for the JO’s growth through her work as Region III Chair. She helped organize throughout the Southeast local and regional basketball, track and field, boxing, swimming, gymnastics, wrestling, baseball, karate, and many other sports local, regional, and national competitions. In doing so she worked with various State and National Sport Federations to ensure that competitions were fair and in line with all standards; she was a born negotiator.

Although her many accomplishments as an AAU volunteer and in the sports world are too numerous to mention, the following positions highlight some of her successes: First female President of the SEAAU, National Registration Chair of the AAU, AAU Executive Committee, Chair of Joel Ferrell National Awards Committee, Alabama and Tennessee State Games steering committees, Acting Executive Director of the AAU during National Sports Act transition period, US Olympic Committee meetings and Olympic games attendance and volunteering, an, chaperone on European youth sports trip. 

Awards and recognition for her work are as follows: Life Member of the AAU, SEAAU Volunteer Leadership Award, AAU President’s National Leadership Award, National AAU Ira Hurley Award for Outstanding Service, National AAU Spirit Award, “Sports Travel” Magazine “Rosey’s Hero” Award, dedication of Track and Field stand at Memphis University (Jane and Jim), and dedication of Region III track meet, Albany, GA. She was recognized in 2003 by the “Nashville Tennessean” as the sixth most powerful woman in the state of Tennessee in Sports. The award that she was the proudest of was the naming of the annual Jane Puckett SEAAU Leadership Award in 2002 of which “Puck” was the proud recipient in 2004.

She has been inducted in numerous Halls of Fame: 
Tennessee Swimming Hall of Fame - 1986
AAU Volunteer Hall of Fame – 1989
Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame – 2002
And, for her last journey, The Bridge at South Pittsburg Hall of Fame - 2012; she truly led a Hall of Fame life!

When she wasn’t conducting or attending her many meetings, she could be seen at blackboards teaching math as a popular substitute teacher. In the book “The Girls of Atomic City”, author Denise Kiernan, described her as a “force of nature”. However, despite the many accolades and achievements she was a grounded and strong Christian, a loving and adoring wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, cousin, friend and neighbor. Her home was the venue for many Easter egg hunts, creative birthday and slumber parties, bridge and seasonal parties, softball games, leaf raking and football games, and, when the snow fell, the place to be for skiing, sledding, and fireside warmth.

She is survived by three children, Beverly Newell Puckett, Atlanta, GA; Willam Greer Puckett (Ben Yaakovsen), Bremerton, WA; James HalliBurton Puckett (JoAnne), Huntsville, AL; three grandchildren Edward HalliBurton Puckett, Nashville, TN, Kathryn Lyle Puckett, Chicago, IL, and David Gray Salturelli, Denver, CO; and, an extended family of many cousins and loving nieces and nephews who are scattered from coast to coast and border to border.

A life long Presbyterian and member of the First Presbyterian Church of Tullahoma, her funeral service will be held Saturday, April 30, 2016, at 10:30 am in the sanctuary that “Puck” helped design. Visitation will be at the Tullahoma Funeral Home on Friday, April 29, 2016, from 5 to 8 pm. Burial is scheduled after the service at Maplewood Cemetery, Paris, TN.

The family has requested that in lieu of flowers donations be made in her memory to the First Presbyterian Church of Tullahoma,; Southeastern AAU,; Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame,; and, in honor of her friend Pat Summitt and to support the study of and prevention of dementia related diseases, The Pat Summitt Foundation,

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