Charlie Nix, a Powell High School graduate who died in military service in South Korea, was remembered May 31 at the Powell’s Station History Society. It was the group’s second meeting since suspending for Covid in 2020.
Denise Riggs talked about her family and her uncle Charlie. Marvin and Sarah West drove in from Union County to participate. Marvin has written about Charles Nix (here and here). Both graduated in the Powell High Class of 1951.
Club president Ron Evans projected pictures from their annual, highlighting Pfc Nix. And then he showed a photo of the PHS football team with Charles Nix front and center, holding the ball, and Ron’s own two brothers (Woody and George) along with a picture of his sister-in-law. To understand this joke, you’ve got to know that many in the Powell history group are hearing impaired. I think that’s why we all shout.
So, Ron flashed a photo of a young woman in the 1950s annual. Somebody yelled, “Yes, that was so-and-so’s girlfriend. He always got the best-looking women,” just as somebody across the room yelled, “Careful, I think that’s my grandmother.” This illustrates the fun and camaraderie of the group. Old-timers George Ed Gill and Harry Fersner were there. They’ve gained a local following with their Friday morning breakfast at Humphammers where they reminisce and share their personal stories of Powell history.
Charles L. Nix was born to Racha H. and Fay Estelle Altom Nix of Powell. They attended Bells Campground Baptist Church. Brothers were Howard, Cecil, Jerry, Robert, Bobby Gene and Jimmy Nix; sisters were Louise, Wilma, Betty, Delores (Denise’s mom) and Rachel.
Delores still lives here and was the source of much of Denise’s presentation. Delores told her about growing up during the Great Depression. “We ate rabbits and squirrels and frogs from the creek. We didn’t have much, but neither did anyone else.” Farm families were self-reliant.
Charles played every sport at Powell High. “There must have been a different level of patriotism,” Denise said, because Charles dropped out of school, fibbed about his age (15) and enlisted in the military. He got through seven months of training before he was found out and returned to Powell.
Now he was a “man among boys,” West has written. “Everybody talked about how good-looking he was,” Denise said. “He had a good life.”
But the Korean War intervened. Charles Nix was drafted, trained and sent to Korea. He was killed 38 days later. His funeral was held at Beaver Creek Cumberland Presbyterian Church, which had a larger sanctuary, with interment at Bells Campground. The mourners filled the larger church and then some. Archie Campbell tried to sing “Beyond the Sunset” but choked up. That was December 21, 1952.
Now, 70 years later, Denise Riggs still lives in Powell. Her daughter has a pen pal in South Korea. Denise hopes to visit there someday, to see where her uncle Charles died. Her son, Eli, plays on the Powell High football team that won the state championship this year – the first time in school history. Denise brought Eli’s championship ring – a gift to all players from the Powell community. The ring weighs about five pounds and is designed to flash “POWELL” in orange letters.
And Archie Campbell’s grandson – Chase Campbell – graduated from Powell High and a couple of colleges and now is pastor of young adults and college at Wallace Memorial Baptist Church. Powell people don’t stray far.