Robie T. Hensley Sr., age 90, of Chuckey, passed away Tuesday evening at his home. He was surrounded by his loving family.
Mr. Hensley was a faithful Christian and active member of Chuckey United Methodist Church, participating in many leadership roles including Church Historian.
He was a very loving and devoted father, brother, grandfather, great-grandfather and uncle. He was a fisher, hunter, hiker, gardener, farmer, pilot, skydiver, scuba diver, storyteller and world traveler.
He was born in 1922 in his home in Philadelphia, TN, near Limestone, and started school at the age of three. In 1937, when he was just 15 years old, he began working for the Civilian Conservation Corps in Unicoi County.
During World War II, he married Zetta Estepp of Limestone, and both worked for Douglas Aircraft in Chicago, IL., building C-54s. It was there that their first son, Steve, was born. After the war, Robie and Zetta returned to the area, he getting a position with the Chuckey Post Office with Zetta bearing another son and a daughter while working in the garment industry locally. Robie was a distinguished civil servant who retired after 35 years as Postmaster for the Chuckey Post Office in 1985.
He spent his retirement years hiking the Appalachian Trail twice, the Pacific Crest Trail and trails in Hawaii, Alaska, and Poland. He wrote and published a journal about hiking the Appalachian Trail in 1986. As he had parachuted onto the top of Springer Mountain in Georgia to begin his first hike, he took the trail name of “Jumpstart.” He made more than 400 jumps as a skydiver and was a member of the Leaping Lizards group, which was later known as the Falling Stars. He experienced his dream of flying an airplane, skydiving and hiking the mountain ridgelines on both coasts of the United States. He said that his journey was more fun than he ever imagined it could or would be.
Robie was a life-long learner and enjoyed the challenge of a new subject, including learning common phrases in dozens of languages and spending time with new technologies, including his many Facebook friends over the past several years. He was always encouraging others to follow their own dreams.
Survivors include two devoted children, a son and daughter and two daughters-in-law: son, Ted, and his wife, Linda Hensley, of Chuckey; daughter, Sherry Hensley, of Chuckey; and daughter-in-law, Julie Hensley, of Chuckey; four grandchildren, Atticus Hensley and wife, Caroline, of Murfreesboro, Ben Hensley and wife, Amanda, of Camus, Washington, Erin Schultz and husband, Steve, of Chuckey, and Theo Hensley and wife, Cori of Bristol; two step grandchildren, Eric Price and wife, Rachel, of Chuckey, and Carrie Riley and husband, Shone, of Piney Flats; ten great-grandchildren, Stephanie Hensley, of Murfreesboro, Sam and Zetta Schultz, of Chuckey, Silas Hensley, of Bristol, Mason Price, Cameron Waller, Madison and Courtney Price, of Chuckey, and Carson and Kelsey Riley, of Bristol; one brother and sister-in-law, Andy and Eva Hensley, of Chuckey; sisters-in-law, Mamie Estepp Hensley, of Limestone, and Joyce Estepp Broyles Hartman, of Tusculum; and numerous loving nieces, nephews and cousins. He had a special relationship with Andy Ziehmer, of Greeneville, who lived with him as a youth for many years.
He was the son of the late Silas Hensley and Louie Miller Hensley Durham. He was preceded in death by his wife and mother of his children, Zetta Estepp Hensley; a son, Steve Hensley; a sister, Bertie Hensley Bailey; and two brothers, Clifford Hensley, of Limestone, and Ray Hensley, of Chuckey.
He spent his last year and final days in the home that he had built some 60 years before for his family on the Nolichucky River in Chuckey surrounded by those who cherished and loved him.
The family will receive friends from 2-4 and 6-8 on Friday at Jeffers Funeral Chapel in Afton. Funeral services will be on Saturday at Horse Creek Church of God at 2:00 p.m. The body will lie in state thirty minutes preceding the service. The Reverend Randall Emmett will officiate. Interment will follow the service in Horse Creek Church of God Cemetery.
Pallbearers will be his grandsons and the husbands of his granddaughters: Atticus Hensley, Ben Hensley, Theo Hensley, Eric Price, Shone Riley and Steve Schultz. Honorary pallbearers will be Dr. Joe Austin and his many loving nieces and nephews.
Memorials can be made to: Greeneville-Greene County Library, 210 N. Main Street, Greeneville TN 37745.
Online register may be viewed at www.jeffersmortuary.com.
Jeffers Funeral & Cremation Service, 208 N. College St. Greeneville, TN 37745; (423) 639-2141