Elaine Merriman Lehr Beene, age 76, passed away on June 2, 2023. Elaine was born in Chattanooga in 1947 to Frank and Opal Lehr of South Pittsburg, TN. She attended Middle Tennessee State University as a national merit scholar, where she earned a degree in English. After graduation, Elaine married her high school sweetheart James “Jim” Beene in 1970. They lived in Oxford, England, and Ontario, Canada, before settling in Oak Ridge in 1976.
Elaine was a world-class mom, a constant source of warmth, support, and love for her children, and always firm in her convictions of right and wrong. She was patient beyond measure and steady in the face of even the most preposterous child-related calamities. Those privileged to count her as a friend had access to a bottomless reservoir of sly humor and wise perspective. The doors of her home were always open to two generations of teenage boys, dozens of whom counted on her for home-cooked meals, warm hugs, or kicks in the pants, as circumstances required.
Elaine wore many professional hats during her life but was never defined by a job. Whip-smart, she reveled in being underestimated. Late in life, she produced, with a mischievous grin, the results of a high school IQ test showing she scored several points higher than her future nuclear physicist husband.
Throughout her life, she volunteered with organizations providing education, healthcare, and support for women. Fiercely determined and chronically intolerant of misogyny, a man misbehaved in Elaine’s presence at his peril.
Elaine was preceded in death by husband, Jim Beene; and sisters, Janet Webb and Barbara Nell Lehr. Survivors include daughter, Sarah Beene; sons, Charles and Philip Beene; brother, Allan Lehr; sisters, Sherry Jones and Ann Sumler; five grandchildren; and many nieces & nephews.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society givenow.lls.org, or the Bean-Roulston Cemetery Association c/o Dr. John C. Raulston, P.O. Box 986, Jasper, TN 37347.
The family will host a memorial service and interment will be held on Saturday, June 24, 2023, at 11:00 am CDT at Bean-Roulston Cemetery. Online condolences may be left at weatherfordmortuary.com.