Cover photo for Gene Childress's Obituary
1946 Gene 2020

Gene Childress

August 20, 1946 — August 11, 2020

On August 11, 2020, Donald Gene Childress, 73, loving husband and father of three children, passed away surrounded by his loving family at his home in Melfa, VA.

Gene was born on August 20, 1946 in Kingsport, TN to Hubert Childress and Emily (Netherland) Childress. He graduated from Blountville High School in Blountville, TN and attended Whitney School of Business in Kingsport, TN. Gene moved to Virginia in 1970 to begin a career in law enforcement with the Virginia Department of Corrections. In 1972, Gene graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy and was assigned to Portsmouth and Chesapeake where he worked for eight years before transferring to the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Gene retired from the Virginia State Police in 2004 as a Senior Special Agent after a long and distinguished career.

Gene was known for his razor-sharp wit, his dogged determination and unfailing work ethic. “Can’t never did anything” was a phrase he often used. He loved living on the Eastern Shore (but hated running aground on Seaside). He watched every episode of Gunsmoke, Bonanza and The Virginian at least 3 times and lived vicariously through Marshal Matt Dillon until his last days. In his later years, when his illnesses robbed him of his stamina, but not his strength, it also gave him a new found softness we all treasured.

His memory will be cherished and kept alive by his wife and devoted partner of 55 years, Carolyn Jean (Phillips) Childress; children, Rob Childress (Julie), Shane Childress (Brandy), and Tonya Willett (Tom); his seven grandchildren (Robyn Childress, Rachel Childress, Kirsten Price, Jordan Willett, Sarah Childress, Luke Childress and Justin Willett; two great-grandchildren (Owen Holloway and Ryker Price); and his two special aunts, Ruth Childress and Helen Boyd.

Gene was preceded in death by his father, Hubert, his mother, Emily, his brother, Robert James (RJ) Childress, and his grandson, Thomas L. Willett, Jr.

A graveside service will be conducted Friday, August 14, 2020, at 11:00 AM, at Belle Haven Cemetery with Father J. Michael Breslin officiating. Flowers will be accepted, or memorials may be made to St. Charles Church, 545 Randolph Ave., Cape Charles, VA 23310 or Food Bank of the Eastern Shore, P.O. Box 518, Onley, VA 23418.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at

Arrangements were made by Doughty Funeral Home in Exmore, Virginia.

Graveside Service

Belle Haven Cemetery
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  • Lee Street
    Belle Haven, Virginia 23306
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