Paula Marie Champion


Paula Marie Champion, age 61, of Mt. Vernon, Missouri, passed away peacefully after a brave battle with ovarian cancer at 6:45 a.m. on Monday, May 8, 2017, at the Cox Hospital in Springfield, Missouri.

Paula was born on January 7, 1956 as the middle child of Charles and Joy (Rhodes) Fender.  She graduated from Mt. Vernon High School in 1974.  Shortly after, she met her husband, Jeff, while working at Dillard’s in Springfield.  They married in 1976 and had a daughter, Crystal, in 1981. Recently they renewed their wedding vows on their 39th anniversary in Paula’s favorite place, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

Paula made a career with the Lawrence County Soil and Water Conservation District as the District Manager.  Among her many responsibilities, her special interests included helping local farmers understand and implement farming practices that benefitted both the farm and the environment.  She was also a leader of the Envirothon, a competition for high school students from the United States and Canada that teaches them about agriculture and environmental current issues.  She has undoubtedly left a lasting legacy in both of those areas.

Paula was also an advocate for her family during her last months.  She learned that she carried a genetic mutation (BRCA1), that was hereditary, and in the process of insisting that the women in her family get tested for their genes, she saved several lives, including that of her daughter who also carries that mutation.

Paula was more than her cancer.  She was a loving wife, a wonderful mother, a loyal friend and confidant and wise and worldly woman whose influence is far reaching.

She is survived by her husband, Jeff; daughter, Crystal; her parents, Charles and Joy Fender; her brother and sister-in-law, Paul and Brenda Fender; her sister and brother-in-law, Pam and John Smith; four nieces, three great nieces and four great nephews.

She was preceded in death by her grandmothers, Irene Rhodes and Marie Armstrong; her grandfathers, Clyde Rhodes and Charlie Fender; her aunt, Sharlotte Rhodes and her uncle, Billie Clyde and her aunt Charlene Armstrong.

A celebration of life will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, May 12, 2017, at the Fossett-Mosher Funeral Home in Mt. Vernon.  Visitation will be held from 1:00-2:00 p.m. on Friday, May 12, 2017, in the funeral home chapel.  The family would be honored if any of Paula’s family or friends would like to share their fondest memories of her during the service.

Please consider making a donation to Red, White and Boom, Mt. Vernon’s annual July 4th celebration that was one of Paula’s passion projects as an alternative to flowers in care of the funeral home.  

Online condolences may be shared at this website.



1:00 - 2:00 p.m. on Friday, May 12, 2017

510 E. Cherry St., Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712

  Funeral Service

2:00 p.m. on Friday, May 12, 2017

510 E. Cherry St., Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


Private Family Burial

Mt. Vernon City Cemetery

  Memorial Donations

510 E. Cherry St., Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712

Memorial donations may be made payable to the Red, White & Boom, in care of the funeral home.

Online Condolences


Add new comment

Connie Stemmons

Sincere sympathy to family and friends. May happy memories someday overcome your sorrow.

 Posted May 15, 2017 - 10:54am
Curtis Gooch

Prayers and God's comfort to Family and Friends. Paula was a Wonderful person.

 Posted May 12, 2017 - 6:24pm
Abby Inglis

Sending prayers for Paula's family and friends. What a great gal!

 Posted May 12, 2017 - 9:49am
Rebecca Jernigan

Paula was my cousin, I never met her but I feel her loss just the same. Joy and Charles, please know that we are sending our love and prayers to all of you in this time of grief. We love you all. Rebecca James Jernigan (daughter of Gladys Rhodes James)

 Posted May 11, 2017 - 6:11pm
Fred & Pam Schoen

Our thoughts and prayers are with the family

 Posted May 11, 2017 - 9:03am
Stacey Ferrell

Paula was truly a one-of-a-kind person. She could always be counted on for shooting it to you straight. That was my favorite quality about her. Her passing will leave a big void in the family. She was the definition of a heroine.

 Posted May 10, 2017 - 9:46pm
Jerry & Chery Gardner

Please accept our deepest condolences for your family's loss.

 Posted May 10, 2017 - 12:09am
Betty Voskamp

Pam, Paul and family,
Paula was a special person who always had a smile for those coming in the office. Roger will miss his visits with her. Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you.
Gods blessings, Roger and Betty Voskamp

 Posted May 9, 2017 - 11:30pm

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