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