Nadean Kennedy Cunningham, born December 3, 1928 passed away Saturday October 24, 2020. She was the daughter of the late Clifford “Jay” Kennedy and the late Sarah Lou Hutsell Kennedy. She was preceded in death by her husband Thomas L. Cunningham, son-in-law Dave Neiswander and grandson Donnie Pickel. She is survived by her children: daughters Sarah K. Neiswander, and Sandra F. Pickel and her son Jeffrey L. Cunningham and wife Denise Cunningham; brothers and sisters-in-law Vearl and Juanita Kennedy and Arrants and Ann Kennedy; Grandchildren Paul Pickel, Bryan Wyrick, Jason Pickel, Sarah Thompson, Lauren Cunningham and Anna Grace Cunningham; eight great grandchildren; several nieces and one nephew.
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Nadean attended the two room Sewee School, North City School and McMinn County High School. She was a graduate of Tennessee Wesleyan University and a Certified Public Administrator designated by the University of Tennessee Center for Government Training.
Nadean’s long life was centered around family, church, community and local Republican party political activity. She was a devoted member of the First Church of God (Fisher Street) where she served as church treasurer for many years. She enjoyed singing church hymns and listening to gospel music. As a mother, she was intimately involved in her children’s’ activities as a volunteer for Brownies and Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, School PTA and church youth activities. She was a second mom to many of her children’s friends and everyone was always welcome at her table.
Nadean was a career public servant. She was elected Register of Deeds of McMinn County five (5)times and worked at the McMinn County Courthouse for Fifty-Four (54) years. Nadean particularly enjoyed her service to and relationship with McMinn County Military Veterans. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Nadean served as administrative assistant for the Veterans’ Service Office working with and assisting dozens of Military Veterans of WW II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War in applying for Military medical benefits, Military pensions and Military disability status.
Nadean began her service in the Republican party as a volunteer in local and statewide races over 70 years ago. She served over 25 years as a local precinct officer, 4 years as Treasurer and 17 years as Secretary of the McMinn County Republican Party and Steering Committee. She served terms as President, Secretary and Treasurer of the McMinn County Republican Women’s Club. She volunteered and/or worked on behalf of a Republican statewide or Federal candidate in practically every election since 1946.
The Tennessee Republican Party honored Nadean in 2003 with its highest honor and recognition by presenting her the 2003 Statesmen’s Award. Nadean received her Statesmen’s award and designation on June 7, 2003 in Nashville in the presence of over 1000 attendees. United States Senate Majority leader Bill Frist presented the award. Shortly thereafter, Nadean had the opportunity to meet with and sit for a photograph with then sitting President George W. Bush.
Nadean was an avid sports fan closely following her beloved Tennessee Vols and attending games, football and basketball, with her grandsons and friends. She followed the Atlanta Braves and attended the 1992 World Series.
No memory or tribute to Nadean would be complete without referencing her lifelong love of animals. Her dogs were her best friends, she loved them fiercely, and they had somewhat equal status with her human family members.
She also cherished her time with and deeply cared for all of her Courthouse friends and co-workers. They were her special friends and her second family. She deeply missed her daily interaction with them and her constituents upon her retirement at the age of 82.
Above all other attributes, Nadean loved people. She truly enjoyed knowing others. Not just to know who someone was, but to know them and have an interest in their lives and their needs. Her hallmark smile and twinkling eyes conveyed a genuine welcome and a message to draw near. She will be deeply missed but not forgotten. Though heartbroken by her passing, we take great comfort knowing she has already heard the words: “Well done my good and faithful servant.” Well done.
The family invites all friends to a public graveside service 11:00am, Tuesday, October 27th at McMinn Memory Gardens with Pastor Roy Chism officiating. The family requests that COVID-19 precautions be observed.
Pallbearers will be Rocky Kennedy, John Forgety, Jerry Anderson, Jackie Baker, Paul Pickel and Bryan Wyrick. Honorary pallbearers will be McMinn County Court House Office Holders and Staff.
The family expresses gratitude and thanks to the Staff of Sweetwater Hospital and to the Staff of Life Care Center of Athens for the personal attention and care that Nadean received over the past few months. The family offers a very special thank you and acknowledgement to Dr. Craig Riley for his extraordinary and compassionate care of Nadean.
Smith Funeral & Cremation Services of Athens is honored to serve the family of Nadean Kennedy Cunningham.