Paulk, Donna Ellen

Lived A Rich Life Full Of Love And Musical Laughter

  • Tuesday, February 20, 2024
Donna Ellen Paulk
Donna Ellen Paulk

Donna Ellen Paulk, 85, passed away on Monday, February 12, 2024, the 64th anniversary of her wedding to her beloved husband and best friend Harry Paulk. They are together, again, at last.

Donna was a beautiful, sweet person, full of kindness, usually smiling, and often singing. She savored her life, finding joy everywhere - in nature, in music, in time spent with her precious family. She lived a rich life full of love and her musical laughter, and she leaves everyone who loves her with the joy of having had her in their lives.

Donna was born in 1938 in Tupelo, Mississippi to the late Archie Kenneth Atkins and Lynette Yarbrough Atkins. She was devoted to her "Mother and Daddy" and her sister, Janice, and always referred to her childhood house as "home." She was preceded in death by her dear husband Harry Paulk, and her son, Kevin Paulk.

Donna graduated from Germantown High School in Memphis and in addition to loving and supporting her family, worked at UT Agricultural Extension Service for many years and at News Channel 9, where she retired in 2008.

Donna showered her family with love; she was a beloved daughter, sister, wife, mother and Nana. Her family was her greatest joy, or at least that's the way she made everyone feel. A great encourager, she had the gift of reminding everyone around her how much she loved them and how proud she was of them, and her buoyant spirit lives in everyone whose lives she touched. Donna was an avid reader and lover of books, and she passed this great love on to her children. From Jane Austen to Elizabeth Ogilvie to authors of British mystery, she always ended the day with a book in hand. A great appreciator of music, she was often singing and remembered the words to countless songs in myriad genres. Never afraid of a road trip, she delighted in taking beautiful drives with Harry or her children, singing bluegrass or old country or whatever may be on the playlist that day. She loved to dance, too, and delighted in all four seasons but especially autumn. As much as she treasured time with her family, Donna also relished time alone and was a self-proclaimed night owl, watching old movies and late-night TV after the rest of the family had gone to bed. Hearing her laughter, her children were fond of sneaking downstairs after bedtime to see what she was watching and what was so funny.

Donna loved a rainy Sunday and many such Sundays were spent drinking hot tea, rewatching Pride and Prejudice, Sleepless in Seattle, or another favorite from her extensive catalog. Sundays also revealed her love of football, when her sudden shouts of "FUMBLE!" would reverberate throughout the house and never fail to surprise us. She loved traveling with Harry all over the country, and had a particular fondness for Chicago, Durango, Colorado, and traveling to spend time with her grandchildren, whom she adored.

Donna is survived by her sister, Janice Johnston, her children, Kelly Paulk (David Strozak), Brian Paulk, Laurie Winston (Tom), her grandchildren, Hank and Lucy, and a number of nieces and nephews.

So many people loved and supported Donna in the last several years, including Pam Jackson, Tammy Wilson, Ashley Garrett, Pacer Harp, Irma, Pam Lee, LaQuetta, Isela and Sylvia at Solomon’s House, Valencia of Hearth Hospice, Reverend Evelyn Harris of St. Luke United Methodist Church, the Harpeth Presbyterian family, and so many others. You all have made our journey easier and have become family along the way. We will love you always and never forget the love and care you gave Donna. We also want to thank our good friends and sweet family for all the love and support you gave us.

A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, March 23, at 1 p.m. at St. Luke United Methodist Church in Chattanooga, following a receiving of friends there from noon to 1 p.m.

Memorial contributions may be made to Tennessee State Parks at or St. Luke United Methodist Church at

Arrangements are by Cremation Center of Chattanooga, 1345 Hickory Valley Road, Chattanooga, Tn. 37421.

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