Nell Powers Wright, 87, died Dec. 26. She was a Campbell County school teacher for 29 years where she taught all elementary school grades at College Hill from 1954 until 1963 and West LaFollette from 1963 until 1981.ÊDuring this time she taught over 1,000 students whom she loved dearly, keeping and cherishing every gift they ever gave her for Christmas or any other occasion.
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Nell was born in Jacksboro on March 20, 1925 to Larry Carson Powers and Mary Agnes Clotfelter Powers, also a Campbell County teacher.ÊShe was very close to her dad, Larry, a civil engineer who taught her how to use all kinds of tools of his trade.ÊShe followed him around to his construction sites any time she had an opportunity to help.ÊLarry worked all over the country on all types of civil engineering projects such as the Smyrna airport and the Newfound Gap road from Gatlinburg to Cherokee, N.C.ÊNell's paternal grandfather, William Barton Powers, was a medical doctor in Jacksboro and one of the founders of the Eagle Bluff Hotel in Jacksboro, which was a famous mineral springs destination during the early 1900s.ÊHer paternal grandmother, Florence Woodson's father was one of the first settlers and earliest landowners of the Powell Valley.
Nell loved her roller skates and bicycle and often rode her bicycle to classes at Central High School in Jacksboro. During high school she rode her bicycle from Jacksboro to LaFollette to visit a certain young man, Dudley Victor Wright, who worked at Riggs Drug store on the corner. After graduating high school, she travelled to New York City by train with her clothes in a trunk. She lived in the Martha Washington Hotel for women and worked as a model with the John Robert Powers agency.ÊShe later returned to Tennessee to attend East Tennessee State University.
When Dudley returned from World War II, Nell and Dudley were married in 1945.ÊDudley became a well-respected community leader in LaFollette.ÊHe was a manager with Home Beneficial Life Insurance Company, deacon at First Baptist Church, and president of the Campbell County Shrine Club.
Nell worked as a bookkeeper for the LaFollette Utilities before receiving her first teaching position in 1954.ÊIn 1958 she received a B.S. degree from Lincoln Memorial University.ÊShe was a charter member of the Knoxville Chapter of Daughters of the Nile, an international fraternal organization that serves as a social and charitable organization and works to raise money for the Shiners Hospital for children.ÊBoth Dudley and Nell enjoyed the Shrine organizations and loved to dance at the Shiners Balls in Knoxville. Wright was also a member of the East Tennessee Education Association, National Education Association, and the First Baptist Church of LaFollette.
After her retirement from teaching in 1981 she spent much of her time with her grandchildren Jason and Suzanne, in the summers taking them to Cumberland Falls State Park, Berea, Ky., Silver Dollar City in Pigeon Forge, and to all the miniature golf games available. Her grandchildren took the place of her school children in her retirement.
She lived in Jacksboro and LaFollette for 78 years before moving to Knoxville in 2002 to be near her daughter.ÊFor the past three and a half years, she was a resident of the Brakebill Nursing Home in Knoxville.
Nell was preceded in death by her husband, parents, and her sister June Powers Bivens.
She is survived by her daughter Sharon Wright Cottrell and husband Brad; two grandchildren, Jason Cottrell and wife, Angela, and Suzanne Cottrell Christensen and husband, Jeff; four great-grandchildren Katie, Kenzie, Jake, and Olivia Cottrell all of Knoxville; two nephews, David and Eric Bivens of Mechanicsville, Va. and brother William Barton Powers of Limestone.
The family will receive friends from noon until 2 p.m. on Jan. 6 at Cross-Smith Funeral Home in LaFollette with funeral services following at 2 p.m. in the Cross-Smith Funeral Home chapel with Dr. Duane Mills officiating.
Interment will be at Jacksboro Cemetery following the service.
Cross-Smith Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.
Cross Smith Funeral Home
300 East Central Avenue
La Follette, TN 37766
Published in LaFollette Press on Jan. 3, 2012