Country Connections

This story begins August 6, 1945, on Black Fox Road in upper Union County, Tennessee, where the cries of a baby newly born to Clyde and Kate Thomas Nicley echoed through the hollows and hills.
This child’s name was Richard Nicley. It was late summer and at night you could hear the katydids and whippoorwills while enjoying the cooling night air. Life was changing in the mountains as World War II was spinning down and soldiers were returning home to their families.
Young Richard would play with his siblings in the mountains, fields and streams, and he learned a strong work ethic from his parents. When Richard was five years old, a few miles south a new baby girl was born to Sam and Annie Crawford on December 25, 1950. She was the youngest of 14 brothers and sisters and was named Linda Crawford. Like Richard, Linda was born into a farm family and early on learned how to work.
A few years later Linda would influence Richard’s life in a very good way.
When Richard became a teenager, he bought a guitar from his cousin for $7, and this instrument changed the direction of his life forever. With the help of a friend, Gene Needham, Richard learned to play the guitar and the bass. He also began to sing. When he was a student at Horace Maynard High School, Richard played the part in a skit of a linebacker that went to sleep during the game. The audience roared with laughter and that earned him the nickname, Sleepy. Richard said he was just acting naturally.
Richard dropped out of high school in his sophomore year. He had no plans for the future.
He had an old car and was getting a little rebellious—just a teenager with too much time on his hands. Richard had an older first cousin, D.R. Cabbage (who later became a Primitive Baptist Elder).
D.R. had been working at Southern Cast Stone and injured his foot and was disabled for a while. He received a state rehabilitation grant that allowed him to go to barber school. Knowing Richard's severe asthma limited his employment opportunities, D.R. came to Richard’s house to talk to him about going to barber school. He said he thought Richard could also get on a disability grant.
He said, “Go with me tomorrow and spend the day and see what you think.”
That was in the fall of 1962. Richard enrolled that year and graduated on July 23, 1963. This year Richard celebrates his 56th year of barbering, thanks to the good Lord and Elder D.R. Cabbage.
About two years after Richard became a barber he became friends with Ruby Crawford and met her youngest sister, Linda.
Richard was smitten.
They started seeing each other secretly, at first against her mother’s wishes. Her mother eventually signed for them to get married that summer.
Linda was the best thing that ever happened to Richard. They have been married for 54 years and have two children, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
From a very young age, Linda loved to sing, inheriting her singing talent from her father, Sam Crawford. (It really is a God-given gift.) While they were dating, Richard discovered Linda could sing. He played the guitar for her.
Early in their marriage, Linda was on The Jim Hensley Show (a local TV show out of Knoxville) for a season. Many years ago her oldest sister, Lucille, was on the Mid Day Merry-Go-Round (a radio show in Knoxville) numerous times.
Richard became a Christian in December of 1965 soon after getting married. Eventually he started playing bass guitar for a couple of gospel quartets and then had a trio, The Richard Nicley Singers, with Linda, Mike Tipton and Jane Tipton Miller, with Richard on guitar and Mike playing bass guitar.
Richard was called into the ministry in 1974 and was ordained in May of 1975. He soon became a pastor and has pastored four churches for a total of 40 years of pastoring. He recently retired from Emory Valley Baptist Church after serving there for 19 years.
During Richard’s ministry he presided over and with Linda sang at over 700 funerals. They have always been a team and have endeavored to bring comfort to the bereaved families when they lost loved ones.
Richard offers this example of life’s darker episodes that pastors must take part in:
“It was toward the end of November 2010 and a cold north wind was beginning to blow. I was pastor of Emory Valley Baptist Church.
"A young homeless girl named April was living with some folks in a trailer park in Maynardville, and she had been coming to church with a family.
"It was on a late Saturday afternoon, our grandson Canaan was about 15 years old, and he was spending the night with Linda and me. We were just sitting down to supper when the phone rang. It was the lady at the trailer park where
April was staying. She said 'Pastor Nicley, April can’t live here any longer. Could you drive up here and take her to the Salvation Army?'
“Canaan and I drove to Maynardville to get her. It was beginning to get dark and April was waiting outside with no coat and a small bag with her belongings. As we drove toward Knoxville, April talked about how apprehensive she was and that she had not ever been in a homeless shelter before.
"I said, 'April, Canaan and I are going to have prayer with you.'
"We pulled to the curb to let her out and we prayed for her. April then opened the door and disappeared into the night. I was so moved, I came home and sat down at the table and wrote the song, 'April in November' in about 15 minutes.”
Sometimes and for some fortunate people your life is changed by things you don’t expect. Richard’s life was changed by meeting Linda: He had desire to be a country singer, but was led into the ministry.
Richard’s ministry, with Linda, their children and grandchildren, and their gospel singing has hopefully brought peace and contentment to many people.


Thanks for this article about a lovely couple. I knew some of it but learned other things about this amazing couple. Richard and Linda thanks for the life you have put into your life's work. May our Lord continue to bless both of you and all those that you minister to.



Winter recreational activities

When snow, ice and frigid weather blast into town, you should take precautions to prevent injury. Winter recreational activities can pose problems for the outdoor enthusiast whose body is not properly conditioned. Winter sports like skating, skiing and sledding can cause painful muscle spasms, strains or tears if you haven’t taken the time to warm up.

Author Russell Fine Releases Sixth Novel

Knoxville TN: Local, multi-published author Russell Fine, Author of the Frank Carver Mystery books, has released his sixth book, The California Experiment.
The California Experiment takes place in 2025, after the democrats lose their third presidential election in a row. A California billionaire, who has used his wealth to buy the California legislature decides that California must secede from the United States and become an independent country. He makes it happen, but quickly discovers that he is not going to be able to create the utopia he expected.

Local Author Nan Klee Releases Book Three in Series

Knoxville TN: Multi-published science fiction author Nan Klee has announced the release of DreaganDance, the conclusion of her DreaganStar Saga. Following DreaganStar and DreaganGrey, books one and two in this series, DreaganDance carries readers to the conclusion of the chaotic universe of Samantha Alexander due to her involvement with the first experimental faster-than-light (FTL) spaceship, the DreaganStar. Set in the five lunar colonies, DreaganDance tells of the espionage, intrigue, romance, and mad science surrounding the first FTL starship during its experimental stage.

Miracle in the Ditch

When my Papaw E.O. was young, his father once told him that he would have to hire another farm hand just to keep an eye on him.
If you have read any of my articles or storytelling books, you know my Papaw E.O. was very accident-prone. Yes, I’ll admit it, I am that way too. But I think most of his came from the fact that he was easily distracted.

A Captive Audience

After a long day, with a few extra hours at work at the office, I drove home to eat a bowl of popcorn. It was lightly flurrying when I arrived home. After a pleasant hour and a half with my cat, wife, popcorn, and the local and national news, it suddenly occurred to me that I had forgotten to write and submit this article. Thanks to a phone conversation earlier this evening with a co-worker, I did have a topic for you, Faithful Reader. There are times that inspiration just doesn’t seem to find me, but luckily due to the lateness of the hour I don’t have writer’s block.

Turkey and noodles

This recipe is so simple. We know you have turkey leftover from the big day. Make it when some time has passed and the leftovers are lounging in your freezer. Of course, you could make it with the leftover pieces of rotisserie chicken you picked up at Food City. It is good either way. I first made this recipe the Thanksgiving I discovered Brined Turkey Breast. It is a staple in my menu box.

My unhappy poinsetta

How can a poinsettia be unhappy, you say? Let me tell you this sorry tale. It began Easter 2018 when I donated two Easter lilies for the altar at church. They were returned to me after the holiday. That is the usual procedure.
I sat the lilies, still with blooms, on a bookcase below a southern exposure window in my office at the back of my house. I watered them from time to time during that summer. By fall, the leaves had fallen and the stalk was dead. I stopped watering them, but they remained at the window. I cut off their stalks.

The Christmas Tradition of Advent

My church celebrated the beginning of Advent December 1st by carrying out the “hanging of the green” tradition of decorating the church sanctuary for the Christmas season. Our pastor explained the meaning of the Advent tradition, which was good because while I had heard of it, I didn’t really know what it about. I’m all about old traditions, and so it sparked my own research on the subject, which I thought I would share.


Miracles of Christmas Past

Children's Nativity scene, Cleveland, TN LDS ward. Picture taken by the author.

Christmas can be such a magical time of the year, even under adversity….

There was a Christmas when I wondered if we’d be able to give our young children Christmas presents. I had begun working for the McMinn County School system a few months earlier and we were still recovering from six months of unemployment.

Hold On To Your Hat

How fast are you traveling right now?

Hopefully, your answer is something like “zero” or “I’m not moving at all” unless you are reading this as a passenger in a car, plane or bus. Whatever your answer is, I can say with a reasonable amount of assurance that you are wrong. Some of you may be way ahead of me here, but my guess is that most of you never give this subject much thought. I’m about to change all of that. I’m sorry–and you’re welcome.


Union County Board Of Education

Thursday, December 12, 2019 - 18:00

The next regular workshop and meeting of the Union County Board of Education will be held at Union County High School on Thursday, December 12, 2019. The workshop will begin at 6:00 p.m. with the meeting immediately to follow.

The Union County Board of Education will meet in Executive Session at Union County High School at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 12, 2019 in anticipation of litigation.

UCBPA Meeting

Tuesday, January 14, 2020 - 12:00

UCBPA meets the second Tuesday of each month for approximately one hour. Membership is $25 annually. The meeting begins at noon at Hardee's in Maynardville. Anyone interested in making Union County a better place to live, work, worship, or play may attend.


Howard "Eddie" Wright

Howard “Eddie” Wright-age 60 of Maynardville passed away Saturday, December 7, 2019 at U. T. Medical Center. He was a member of Ailor Dale Baptist Church. Preceded in death by brother, Walley Wright; father and mother-in-law, Seb and Gloria Ailor; sisters-in-law, Karen F. Miller, Lila G. Tiller.

Brentley Justin Keelen

Brentley Justin Keelen-age 2 of Indian Ridge Road, Rutledge went to become an angel Saturday afternoon, December 7, 2019 near his home. Preceded in death by grandfather, Mitchell Burgess. Survivors: mother, Samantha Burgess; father, Dustin Keelen; half-brothers, Darius Gage Morgan and Xavier Blaze Morgan; grandparents, Bruce Keelen; Mavis and James Harrell; Trishia Burgess; great-grandmother, Lillie P.

James A. "Jim" Clay, Jr.

James Anderson “Jim” Clay, Jr.-age 63 of Washburn went home to be with his Heavenly Father Friday morning, December 6, 2019 while surrounded by his family at his home. He was a long-time member of Mt. Eager Baptist Church. Jim was a former employee of Plasti-Line Inc. and was a retired Barber. Everyone who knew him loved him. Preceded in death by his parents, Jim and Ruth Clay; sisters, Lois Dalton and Rhonda Clay; brother, Rev. Johnny Clay.

Barbara Beeler McGinnis

Barbara Beeler McGinnis-age 84 of Washburn went to be with the Lord Thursday, December 5, 2019 at her home. Preceded in death by brothers and sisters-in-law, J. R. (Grace) Beeler; Don (Wanda) Beeler; Bill (Lillian) Beeler, all of Washburn; Hazel Lester of Tazewell.

She is survived by her children, Rick (Alice) McGinnis of Knoxville; Rita (Jim) Teffteller of Rutledge; Debbie (Gary) Wood and Jeff McGinnis, all of Washburn. She had eight grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren. Several nieces, nephews and a host of friends.

Wayne Clifton Smith

Wayne Clifton Smith-age 86 of Heiskell passed away peacefully Tuesday, December 3, 2019 at his home with is family by his side. He was of the Baptist faith and a member of Macedonia Baptist Church. He was a U. S. Army Veteran and a member of the Tri-County Veterans Honor Guard. He was a member of J. C. Baker Lodge #720 F. & A.M.

He leaves behind his wife of 61 years, Shirley Smith; children, Charlotte Diane, Wayne, Tim, Rick and wife, Dolly; Darrell and Beverly. He was also blessed with 19 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

E. J. Ray

E. J. Ray-age 73 of Maynardville went home peacefully Monday evening, December 2, 2019 at his home. He was a member of Fairview Baptist Church. Preceded in death by parents, Andy and Maggie Ray; sisters, Dorthy, Gladys and Mary Patricia Ray; brother, Jr Ray.

Cynthia Dawn Hensley

Cynthia Dawn (Cooper) Hensley-age 53 of Luttrell, born January 18, 1966 passed away Monday morning, December 2, 2019 at her home. Cynthia was a member of Jim Town Baptist Church and an employee of the Horace Maynard Middle School. Preceded in death by father, Rev. E. R. Cooper; mother, Opal Raley Cooper; brothers, Mark and Tony Cooper.

David Ray Richards, Jr.

David Ray Richards, Jr. age 43 of Knoxville passed away Thursday, November 28, 2019 on Thanksgiving Day. David worked at Legend Fitness in Knoxville. He was born and raised on the south side of Knoxville and blessed to have touched so many lives with his charm and outgoing personality.

John Bolt Tatum, Jr.

John B. Tatum, Jr.-age 70 of Sharps Chapel, Tennessee, formerly of Piqua, Ohio passed away suddenly Saturday, November 30, 2019 at his home. He was a member of St. Mary Catholic Church in Piqua, Ohio; U. S. Air Force Veteran of the Viet Nam War; retired employee of Dinner Bell Meat Processing and also worked at Simpson Industries and Clopay Building Products. John loved living on Norris Lake where he enjoyed boating, fishing and hunting. John, along with his wife fostered several children for 13 years.

Lt. Kenneth Thomas Bowman

Lt. Kenneth Thomas Bowman – K. T.’s family are sad and heartbroken to announce his passing November 27, 2019 peacefully at his home after a lengthy illness. Much appreciation to all his doctors, nurses, DCI Dialysis Clinic on Martin Mill Pike and Amedisys Home Health. He was born January 18, 1939 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the son of the late Ralph and Francis Bowman. U. S. Army Veteran of the Viet Nam War and served 1956 – 1966 obtaining many awards to include the Bronze Star Medal. K. T.

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