Dwight Maurice Teagarden went home to Heaven on July 15, 2023, after the fullest 94 years someone could imagine.
Dwight was born on August 21, 1928, in Lamar, Missouri, the only child of Jennie Clayton (Hetherington) and Frank Sloan Teagarden. All who met him remarked that he was an extremely interesting man. This may be in part because he went from growing up on a chicken farm with no running water or electricity to building computers from scratch. Despite attending a one-room schoolhouse in his early years, he went on to earn a degree in Chemical Engineering from The Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy (now Missouri University of Science & Technology.) He taught himself photography and earned extra money taking wedding photos and portraits in his early young adult years and kept photography as a hobby for many years. At the end of WW2, he served in the National Guard and took a job at Carter Carburetor in St. Louis where he received a patent for a pressure carburetor.
He met his wife, Joanne Angell, on a blind date in St. Louis. They were married on May 28, 1954, and in 1958 had their first son, Timothy Neil. They later moved to Waterford, Michigan, where he worked as an automotive engineer for General Motors for 32 years until his retirement in 1992, specializing in engines and fuel systems. While at GM, Dwight would regularly take Pontiac cars to test them in places of extreme conditions. This fostered his love of the Southwest and hundreds of pictures of cactus and the Grand Canyon. He often made trips up and down Pikes Peak, including once running out of gas while coming down and navigating it with no power steering or brakes!
After moving to Waterford, he and Joanne had two more children, Julia Faye and Grant Alan. The family was active in various capacities at Waterford Community Church, where Dwight was a Deacon, taught young boys and helped with audio and computer systems. Dwight loved to study the Bible in detail and used a genealogy program to make a genealogy of Adam’s descendants mentioned in Genesis.
Amazingly, Dwight remembered everything, including the name and room number of a hotel he stayed at back in 1969. He loved details and organizing things in databases. He could tell you your age in decimals to the hundredths due to a function he set up in his personal address database. All his tools were catalogued in a database and another one kept track of his broad collection of screws so he knew how many of each size he had on hand. His basement looked like a hardware store.
Dwight was literally a “jack-of-all-trades” and supremely resourceful. He never once called a repairman, but did all of it himself. He mowed his lawn up until a few years ago. He was the family’s go-to man to fix anything and everything, and helped many others who had similar needs. Whenever he visited one of his children, he would request a list of fix-it projects before he came so he knew what tools to bring. It was not surprising to come home from work and find that he had taken all of the tires off one of the cars to inspect the brakes.
One of his retirement hobbies was woodworking which he enjoyed with his son, Tim, prior to his death. He had an entire workshop in his basement and made beautiful furniture and other items for family members.
In the words of one grandchild, “Papa T was kind, gentle, brilliant, and forever interested in learning about new things. He followed my grandma around the house spouting off new facts he was learning, and she didn't find it as amusing as the rest of us did. He was curious, bright, and always stressed the importance of a quality education to us.”
It was not surprising to find him reading a grandchild’s school science book and quizzing them on what they were learning.
Dwight had a wonderful sense of humor and never tired of his “dad jokes” (though we cringed at his “blonde jokes”.) We loved his optimism and his response to adversity was generally, “No problem.” He loved to talk and it could often take an hour to get out the door as he continued to tell stories of his past.
In 2000, they moved to Lawrenceville, Georgia, and became a part of Hebron Baptist Church where Dwight taught Adult Sunday School. He had a quiet, deep faith and continued to study and teach the Bible his entire life – including through Zoom to his Sunday School class during COVID! For most of his life, he was thrifty almost to a fault, once stating that $15 was too much to spend on a haircut. However, he and Joanne were extremely generous to those around them, regularly giving to over 30 organizations.
In 2022, they moved into the Dahlonega Assisted Living in Dahlonega, Georgia, near their son, Grant.
He is predeceased by his parents, Frank and Jennie Teagarden, son, Tim Teagarden, and son-in-law, Rev. Mark Reon. He is survived by Margaret “Joanne” Teagarden, his wife of 69 years, his daughter, Dr. Julia Reon, his son and daughter-in-law, Grant and Anne Teagarden, his daughter-in-law, Carla Teagarden, as well as 6 grandchildren who loving referred to him as “Papa T” – Rachel, Jessee, Grace and Lindsey Reon, and Kristen and Josiah Teagarden.
In line with his love of constant learning, he has donated his body to science, because as he said, “I have a very interesting body.” Services will be held at a future date and donations in his honor may be made to one of his favorite charities in Pontiac, Michigan, “Power Company Kids Club” which brings practical help and Jesus to the inner-city children of Pontiac and Detroit. https://thepckc.org/give/
Dwight was a truly extraordinary and interesting man and leaves a wonderful legacy of faith and love. We will miss him because he was one of those people who made the world a better place.