Goodbye, Josephine

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Longtime “’Round Rockwood” columnist dies; once gathered news as she peddled eggs

By Cindy Simpson

A longtime Rockwood columnist for the Roane County News died Tuesday.

Josephine McKinney, 92, affectionately known as “Miss Josephine” to many, wrote “’Round Rockwood” for the Rockwood Times and later the Roane County News.

She was a community columnist sharing the goings-on of friends and family, whether it be who came to dinner, who was sick, or who had a new bundle of joy on the way.

“They’d call her with any news they wanted printed,” said Steve McKinney, her son. “She pretty well kept a hand on the pulse of the community and knew things through the grapevine,”

His brother David said their mother often got her information through selling fresh eggs around town.

“If she had eggs to peddle, she could go half the day, taking eggs to people’s houses and getting the scoop. That is how she gathered up some of her newspaper stories,” said David McKinney.

Her family remember a loving woman who took time to listen when it mattered.

“She was a very outgoing person. She was a hard worker, but if she got a phone call she’d sit down and talk to somebody 15 minutes if they needed to talk that long ― get behind on her work to do it ― do whatever it took to let somebody blow off steam or let them know she cared about them,” David said. “She was just a loving and giving person. She hardly ever got mad at anybody I am aware of.”

The farmer’s wife of the late Eugene McKinney was active with Roane County Farm Bureau and other community activities. She greatly missed her late husband after his death in 2011.

“She was quite a woman and very supportive of Dad and anything he wanted to do,” David said.

The couple had been married 70 years, joining their lives as teenagers in 1940.

She was also a charter member of Chevront United Methodist Church, serving many years as a Sunday school teacher and pianist. When no longer able to attend by herself, she often attended Swan Pond United Methodist Church with her family.

In addition to her column, Miss Josephine also wrote in to contests, winning a few prizes here and there, particularly in the 1950s. Those prizes ranged from small cash awards to products such as soap.

“One time, she won a living room suite. When it came it was made out of (glued) cardboard,” said David McKinney.

She even won a pair of toy pistols, a holster and hat for young David at one time.

She got her knack for social writing from her mother, Carrie Ramsey, who wrote a column called the Abels Valley news for The Rockwood Times. That was the name of Miss Josephine’s column until she moved to Rockwood in 1989.

After many decades, Miss Josephine decided to call it quits on ’Round Rockwood in 2013.

Her obituary can be found on Page 6A of today’s edition.