Obituaries

St. John Courtenay, Jr. Obituary

Loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and friend, St. John Courtenay, Jr., age 95, of Murfreesboro, TN passed away on Sunday, January 8, 2023. A native of Columbia, SC, he was the son of the late St. John Courtenay of Charleston, SC and Margaret Hayne Beattie Courtenay of Greenville, SC.

St. John was preceded in death by his wife of 66 years, Ruth Carolyn Carpenter Courtenay in 2017, and his youngest son, William Ashmead Courtenay, II in 1973. He is survived by his son, The Hon. St. John Courtenay, III (Beth) of Arlington VA; daughter, Anne Spencer Courtenay Davis (Jeff) of Murfreesboro, TN; granddaughter, Courtenay Mason Davis Ahuja (Anand) of Nashville, TN; and grandson, Jeffrey Clifton Davis, Jr. (Nandini) of Nashville. He was “Papa” to his four precious great-grandchildren, Sarina Mason Ahuja, Milo Davis Ahuja, Alexander Dylan Davis, and Margot Catherine Naik Davis all of Nashville, TN.

St. John was born on December 30, 1927 at home in Columbia SC where he enjoyed his early years. Later, he moved to Greenville with his mother and three older sisters as a rising high school freshman after the death of his father during the Great Depression. He attended Greenville High School graduating in 1948 before attending Clemson University. After one year, he was sent to Japan during the Korean War and upon completion of that tour of duty, he returned to complete his textile engineering degree at Clemson University.

St. John married Ruth Carolyn Carpenter at St. Phillips Episcopal Church in Charleston on October 6, 1951. Career opportunities brought them to northern Alabama, first in Decatur and then later in Huntsville. A veteran of both the United States Army and Air Force during the Korean War, he began his career at Chemstrand, later Monsanto, in Decatur, before embarking on a 40-year NASA career as a Professional Engineer at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. Known for his integrity, honesty, and hard work ethic, he served on several NASA team projects, including the Lunar Roving Module and the Hubble Telescope. One of his favorite memories was the story he told about solving a difficult battery problem for NASA, for which he was celebrated.

St. John and Carolyn made Huntsville home for almost five decades as members of The Episcopal Church of the Nativity and many civic groups. They were amazing parents to their three children, always encouraging them to pursue their dreams and educational goals, while supporting their many activities. St. John loved to take his children swimming in the summer, read to them, help with math homework, support their individual interests, and lead them on their annual trek to Sullivan’s Island every summer to visit with family in South Carolina.

Known as a man of deep faith, St. John lived by The Golden Rule. He would encourage others that, “Good cast upon the water returneth,” and “There but by the grace of God go I.” A cradle Episcopalian, he was a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Murfreesboro since 2016 after he and Carolyn relocated to be near family. As a widower and resident of The Villages of Murfreesboro, St. John was invited to deliver a Sunday sermon each and every week during the Covid-19 pandemic, totaling 56 sermons. He was a constant encourager, an avid Bible reader, and a man of prayer totally devoted to his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, through his daily words and actions. He spread kindness to everyone God placed in his path each and every day.

The family is grateful for the comfort and care provided by every member of The Villages of Murfreesboro staff including Sue, Hope, Teresa, Rebecca, Yolanda, Jackie, Bobby, Ty, and Jeb. Special appreciation goes to his helpers, Amanda and Margaret, for their kindness and gentle caregiving.

The family requests memorials be made to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 116 N Academy St, Murfreesboro, TN, 37130 or the Boys and Girls Clubs of Rutherford County, 820 Jones Blvd, Murfreesboro, TN, 37129.

A funeral service will be held Friday, January 13, 2023 at 3:00pm ct at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Graveside services will be held Saturday, January 14, 2023 at 1:00pm et at Woodlawn Memorial Park, Greenville, SC.

An online guestbook is available for the family at www.woodfinchapel.com. Woodfin Memorial Chapel (615) 893-5151

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