by Denise Jones Riggs
Charles was a standout athlete at Powell High School who was very well loved in Powell and all of Knoxville from his standout athletic success in football and softball and baseball, and also because he was from a large family of 12 siblings born to parents Racha and Fannie Nix. Most siblings have also now passed, but three are still living: Delores Nix Jones, Jim Nix and Rachel Nix Yarber.
This is a group photo of the 1952 Powell High School football team. Charles is sitting in the front row with the football in his lap.
Charles was drafted into the US Army and killed in action just a few weeks later in Korea. His body came home by train at the L&N Train Station many many weeks later in a refrigerated casket, and remarkably he still looked handsome. The community rallied to get him a larger casket that fit his athletic body, and to have a very nice funeral for him. His funeral had so many people from all of Powell and Knoxville that it was like a big community event.
This particular family is also special because they are part of the “First Families of Tennessee” which means they are direct descendants from people who loved in what is now Tennessee prior to statehood in 1796.
Archie Campbell (singer, artist, celebrity from “Hee Haw”) had a lot of love and respect for Charles and he was one of the people who sang at Charles’ funeral. Archie Campbell sang “Beyond the Sunset” at his funeral, and broke down crying himself while singing when he looked at his mother and siblings. It was a very emotional and highly attended funeral in the close-knit Powell Community. He was so well known and loved that many many people came to the services. Below is a newspaper story about it the historic funeral.
Charles also has a great nephew and great niece (grandchildren of his sister Delores) who are CURRENT Powell Panthers where the memorial will be placed in the Powell Community. (Eli is a sophomore at PHS and Ella will be at PHS next year.) and will both be at the Memorial Dedication service this week. Eli and Ella faithfully decorate their uncle Charles’ grave at holidays, and also serve at several Veterans community projects like Flag Placement, Wreaths Across AmerIca, and Wounded Warriors. This work is inspired by the loss of their uncle Charles and other family military relatives.
Eli is an athlete on the PHS football team and Golf team. Ella is one of Tennessee’s Outstanding Teens in the Miss Tennessee Organization, and also an athlete on her Powell school’s cheer team and golf team.
There are members of the Powell Historic Society who have actually traveled to the site where Charles was killed.
Charles’ sister, Delores Nix Jones, remembers her brother very well and remembers the week before he had to leave for the Army, he was very quiet at home and sitting outside praying a lot. She thinks he knew he might not come back. He had actually already served in the military earlier, because he lied about his age and had joined. When they realized his true age, they sent him home. Later he was drafted, and killed in action weeks later.
That year, Delores had memorized over 100 Bible verses and had the opportunity to travel to “Bible Camp” which was a big deal for Powell youth in those days. When her parents Racha and Fannie Nix picked her up from returning from camp at the L&N Train Station, they told her Charles had been drafted. She said she had so much to talk about from Bible camp, but instead they were just silent and sad the ride back to Powell.
When Charles’ family received news that Charles had been killed in Korea, a man named Clarence McCarter, nicknamed “Shorty” McCarter came to the school to pick up Delores and her siblings. He was one of the few people they knew who had a car, and he was always kind to help them get places. He did not tell them the news, but she said she knew when he came to pick them up that Charles must have been killed.