Audrey Jane Quilling Dent, whose love of family, Christ, music and humanity impacted all who were blessed to know her, passed away at 4:45 p.m. on June 9, 2023, in her home in Emerson, Mo. She was 76.
Born the first of four children to Elizabeth and Bill Quilling in Hannibal, Mo., Audrey lived most of her life in and around Emerson, where she was raised on a small farm with her younger siblings. Family meant everything to her, which is why she later raised her own family just a few miles from her childhood home in the close-knit community that she loved.
She inherited her deep appreciation of music and general goofiness from her father, Bill Sr., and her empathetic and generous heart from her mother, Elizabeth.
An adventurous and sometimes rebellious child, she reveled in growing up in her rural environment, especially when it involved bluegrass jam sessions led by her dad. Her headstrong and curious nature during her formative years carried through her entire life.
After graduating from Emerson-Philadelphia High School, with the invaluable support of her mother, Audrey worked her way through nursing school as a single mother of three young sons, Danny, Pat and Kelly. Not long after, she met the love of her life, James (Jim) Dent. They were soon married and merged their two families; with Jim as the doting father of a young son and daughter, James and Michele. A few years later, they welcomed their youngest daughter, Amanda.
As the matriarch of a big family in a small home, Audrey ensured her children were taught to be humble, hard-working and kind, all while infusing humor and levity. She did the same with the foster children who were in her and Jim’s care while raising their six biological children.
Audrey would often be seen cheering on her kids in their many school endeavors. From basketball games to musical performances to art projects, her encouragement and support of her children was virtually limitless. This, too, carried on later into her life. The pride she felt for her family was undeniable and undying.
With her generous spirit, Audrey also considered her community to be extended family and was involved in many organizations and projects. She was a leader in the 4-H club, a teacher at Emerson Christian Church (where she founded the after-school program), a member of the Friendly Neighbors Club and more.
Mostly, she cared about people. And if someone was in need, she was ready to lend a hand, an ear and an open heart.
Audrey was at her best when she was visiting with, well, just about anyone. “Never met a stranger” has never been truer than with Audrey.
She’d be the first to show up at a new neighbor’s doorstep with a warm welcome and delicious baked goods. Her outgoing nature, kindness and infectious smile impacted anyone who was lucky enough to encounter her.
This manifested into close, loyal and life-long friendships that she treasured. And also touched those whom she worked with and cared for while holding jobs at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Maple Lawn Nursing Home and Heartland Resources home health care.
Her love of music was also a constant in her life; from singing in church to, later, joining Jim in the Senior Stars Band that toured nursing homes in the area. They would trek to bluegrass festivals in Sally Mountain Park and Memphis, Tenn.
They also spent their retirement years traveling the continental U.S. by bus and RV, and to Hawaii by air, the latter to visit their granddaughter and great-granddaughter.
Audrey left this earth to be with the Lord surrounded by those who cared about her most, and in the home where she shared countless memories of laughter, friendship, family, but most of all, love.
Audrey was born Sept. 3, 1946, in Hannibal, Mo., to William and Ida Elizabeth Johnson Quilling. She was married to James B. Dent on Nov. 26, 1971, in rural Palmyra, Mo.
Survivors include her husband of 51 years, James Dent, Maywood; children, Daniel Wayne Wilson, Dixon, Ill.; Patrick Joe Wilson, Durham’ James Michael Dent (Carol), Palmyra; Michele Dent (Lupe Juarez), Palmyra; Kelly Lee Wilson (Erin), Palmyra; Amanda Marie Dent, Memphis, Tenn.; and Becky Lyons (Jack, Pevly, Mo.; grandchildren, Jessica, Ariel, Taylor, James, Justin, Tempestt, Myles, Chloe, Alura, Emily, Grace, Amanda, Layton, Raney, Kellin, Kennedy, Jayce and Danny; great-grandchildren, Jaelana, Jade, Landon, Brooklyn, Braelyn, Blake, Ivey, Blayke, Charlie and JJ; sisters, Marilyn Denish (David), Emerson; and Anita Barnard (Court), Philadelphia, Mo; and brother, Bill Quilling, Palmyra.
Audrey was preceded in death by her parents; granddaughter, Chana Dent; grandson, Javen Lamar Mallory; and sister in-law, Jeri Ravenscraft Quilling.
Audrey was a member of Emerson Christian Church.
Friends and family are invited to Audrey’s Life Celebration at a visitation that will be held from 9 to 11 a.m., Wednesday, June 14, at Lewis Brothers Funeral Chapel in Palmyra.
A funeral service will follow at 11 a.m., Wednesday, June 14, at Lewis Brothers Funeral Chapel. Pastor Patrick Wilson, Audrey’s son, will officiate. The burial will be at Emerson Cemetery in Emerson.
Pallbearers will be James Dent, Justin Dent, Emily Sanders, Grace Sanders, Lupe Juarez, Gene Alan Denish, Courtland Barnard, Layton Wilson, Andrea Pollard, Mia Pennewell, Whit Denish and Will Denish.
Memorials may be made to your choice of Shiloh Children’s Ranch, Palmyra Food Pantry or Emerson Cemetery.
Online condolences may be shared, and video tribute may be viewed at www.lewisbrothersfuneralchapel.com.