Donald Lewis Early
"He fought the good fight, finished the race, kept the faith" as he passed on June 1, 2014 surrounded by his family. Don was known for his kindness, his integrity, his keen intelligence, his quick wit and above all, devotion to his family.
Don was born June 15, 1935 in Nashville, the fourth child of the late William and Winifred Early's five children. A graduate of East Nashville High School, Don received his undergraduate degree from Belmont College in 1958. He completed his graduate studies at Vanderbilt University with a Master's degree in English and German Literature in 1968.
Don served in the Tennessee Air National Guard for 39 years and retired as Director of Resource Management in 1992 having advanced to the rank of Colonel.
In 1958, Don began working at the Baptist Sunday School Board (Lifeway) as a temporary employee. Over the next 40 years, he held many professional and management positions and retired as the Director of Financial and Technical Services.
Don continued a close association with Belmont University and on two occasions was elected "Alumnus of the Year" by the Belmont Alumni Association. In later years, he served as adjunct instructor of communications in Belmont's Massey Graduate School of Business. For many years, Don was owner of Picture World, a popular Franklin, Tennessee frame shop and gallery.
In addition to holding membership in various professional organizations, Don worked for the United Way and was a trustee of the Tennessee Baptist Foundation, the National Guard Association of Tennessee Insurance and Trust, and the Belmont Mansion Foundation.
Don is survived by his devoted wife of 48 years, Beverly, and their three beloved daughters and families: Alison and Craig Reed and children, William, Caroline and Owen; Shannon Epley and children, Sophia, Eva Claire and Jay; Lauren and Jason Whatley and children, Samuel, Matthew, Mary Grace, Kate and Jane Anne. Don is also survived by his brother, Nelson Early of Hendersonville.
Services will be held at Brentwood Baptist Church, 7777 Concord Road, Brentwood, Tennessee at noon on June 5th, with visitation beginning at 10 a.m. Burial service will follow with full military honors at Middle Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery on McCrory Lane.
Memorials may be made to the East Nashville Alumni Association W.H.O. Scholarship fund, P.O. Box 218043, Nashville, TN 37221.
An online guestbook may be signed at AustinFuneralService.com; (615)377-0775.
Austin Funeral & Cremation Services
5115 Maryland Way Brentwood, TN 370237
Published in The Tennessean on June 4, 2014