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True Love and a Bullet

Allyson Dix, Managing Editor/Barren County Progress

“I think we better go in the house,” Stanley Russell Jewell told his wife moments after she suffered a gunshot wound to her back that penetrated her heart.

In July 2013, Mary Ethel Jewell was resting on her porch after returning home from a family birthday celebration. Across the lake not far from their home, neighbors were shooting clay pigeons – a common activity out on country farmland.

On this particular day, Stanley had walked around the house for a few moments to tend to some blown-over chairs and when he returned, Mary told him, “Something has hit me.”

She said it felt as if someone had punched her in the back. When Stanley lifted her shirt to look at her back, he knew he was looking at a gunshot wound.

“When we got in the house, she passed out and I thought she had died,” Stanley said. Emotions were running high as he fumbled to dial 911 with one hand and hold her head in the other. “He (the 911 operator) thought I had shot her. I told him my neighbors are the ones that shot her and he hung up on me.”

Moments later, the long, winding gravel driveway that leads to their home was filled with emergency responder vehicles and a helicopter landed in the field nearby, which whisked Mary away to a trauma unit in Nashville.

A black dot in the center of the chest x-ray taken of Mary Ethel Jewell depicts the location of the bullet from a .22 rifle that penetrated her heart and still remains today.
Photo courtesy / The Jewells

The ride south was a difficult one for Stanley as he battled emotions of what had just transpired perhaps wondering if he had spent his last day with his wife.

Ultimately, surgeons concluded that the bullet would stay lodged in her heart.

“They just said it lodged in my heart and it would be more dangerous to go in and take it out than to leave it,” Mary said.

The bullet traveled over a garage from around 2,200 feet away according to a land surveyor, Stanley said.

Stanley pointed out, “If she hadn’t stood up when she did at that moment, it would have hit her in the head.”

Within three days, Mary and Stanley returned home where she was required to take it easy for a while. Other than that, she suffers no long-term effects. Her warm smile and personality still linger in the heart of Lucas and those who cross her path won’t miss it.

“She’s hard-hearted,” Stanley shares with a smile and a twinkle in his eye. Mary laughs and shares in his humor.

“The Lord took care of us,” Stanley said, “It wasn’t the first time and it ain’t been the last time because we been married 60 years.”

The couple have trekked life’s journey side-by-side for the last six decades and framed photos are placed throughout their home that provide snippets of their lives and memories of days gone by.

They began their lives as kids born and raised in the small community of Lucas where they still live today. In fact, Stanley said he’s lived in every corner of the near-500 square miles of the small community.

Stanley and Mary knew each other all of their lives. Stanley shared he had been dating another lady in Scottsville but one Sunday evening, he decided Mary was the one so he took off in search of his future bride. “I couldn’t find her so I went looking for her where she usually would be and I still couldn’t find her.”

Stanley Russell and Mary Ethel Jewell on their wedding day on June 21, 1963.
Photo courtesy / The Jewells

Stanley said he headed towards her house because he knew they’d be milking cows that time of day. On his way, Stanley said, “Lord, if this ain’t right, stop it today.” Mary came to the door after he knocked.

Stanley said when she asked what he was doing at her door, he told her, “I come to tell you we’re getting married. She said, ‘Okay.’”

“You know what she told me?” he said, “She said she had a date that night. I told her to go on on that date.”

“I reckon that was the last date she went on,” he said before Mary laughed and replied, “It was.”

Mary threw the humor back at Stanley, “I told him if I knew he had been in that bad a shape, I would have made him think about it a while longer.”

“I’d do the same thing all over again,” he said. Mary smiles her warm smile at his charming comment, but there is a firm truth in his statement.

Stanley Russell and Mary Ethel Jewell, seated in the center, surrounded by their family.
Photo courtesy / The Jewells

Stanley and Mary have three children, Penny Young, Sandy Bates, and David Russell Jewell, as well as grandchildren.

The Jewells are well-known for their “Lucas Gathering” down on their farm, which was an annual event the two hosted where many tractor enthusiasts flocked to check them out while families enjoyed good food and time together.

They’ve since stopped the gathering and time has slowed down a bit for Mary and Stanley but the two of them still enjoy their days together. Stanley spends some of his time making his infamous homemade sausage balls and Mary makes her community-favorite butterscotch pies. No matter what they find themselves doing, they enjoy one another’s company.

Mary isn’t hard-hearted though despite Stanley’s witty personality.

Her heart may have a decade-old bullet from a .22 rifle lodged in it but more than that, Stanley caught her whole heart over 60 years ago and she caught his.

Mary Ethel Russell smiles after hearing her husband, Stanley, share stories about the two of days gone by. She suffered a gunshot to the heart ten years ago and the bullet remains lodged to this day.
Photo / Allyson Dix



The Jewells will celebrate their 60th Wedding Anniversary on June 10 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. Everyone is invited to attend the open house celebration at Peters Creek Baptist Church located at 25 N. Lucas Road, Glasgow.




A collage of photos from the Jewell’s annual Lucas Gathering they hosted on their farm for many years.
Photo / Allyson Dix


Stanley Russell and Mary Ethel Jewell hosted an annual event called “The Lucas Gathering” where tractor enthusiasts and family fun were held on their farm. Photo courtesy / The Jewells


Mary and Stanley Jewell will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary in June. 
Photo / Allyson Dix

1 Comment

  1. Patricia on May 31, 2023 at 3:30 pm

    Beautiful story, bless you both.

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