Monday, September 7, 2009

Uncle Forrest's Memorial Service

Mike, Mom, and I made a long day trip to Pensacola, Florida, yesterday to attend the memorial service for my great uncle Forrest. He was such a neat guy. Very much a romantic: rumor has it he was engaged 13 times - 7 to Aunt Elizabeth - before finally settling down with her before the war. Uncle Forrest never talked to me about the war, but I always knew he had an important part in it. Until yesterday I didn't know quite how important his part was.

The memorial was beautiful. I've heard that Uncle Forrest's mother, Leila, loved funerals because you had a chance to see everybody. The same held true yesteray: it was so nice to see everybody again. Memories and anecdotes were shared. He believed in hard work and solid education. "Live within your means," "give people credit," "save money each month," and "love someone a lot," were just a few of his "Forrestisms" He was one of only two out of forty-four men of his type in the Air Force to return from the war.

Uncle Forrest had a full Air Force Honor Guard. After they folded the flag, the Guardsman presented it to Forrest's daughters, reciting, "On behalf of the President of the United States, the Department of the Air Force, and a grateful nation, we offer this flag for the faithful and dedicated service of Forrest Dee Nixon." I know that the Guardsman included Uncle Forrest's rank, but I couldn't hear it: I could only hear parts of what he so solemnly said, so I had to look that last part up.

Then there was the 21-gun salute. I knew what to expect, but I still jumped out of my skin and almost hit the dirt as the first volley resounded off the granite mausoleum walls. I noticed everybody else jumped too. I was able to hold it together until the lone Honor Guard played Taps. Then the tears really flowed.

But you know my favorite memory of Uncle Forrest? Yes, he believed in hard work and service to his country, but Uncle Forrest knew how to have a great time. He also loved to dance, and man, could he! He won all kinds of dance contests, and though we never had the chance to really boogie together, I sure wish we could have.

Forrest Dee Nixon, Jr., formerly of Pensacola, Fla., passed away on Aug. 7, 2009, in Crane, Texas. At his death, he was four days short of his 91st birthday. Born in Lineville, Ala., to Leila and Forrest Nixon; he was the oldest of three. During high school, he and his sweetheart, Elizabeth, were voted most in love.

He received a degree from Auburn University in Electrical Engineering and joined the armed forces, commanding a squadron of B-24s and he flew 17s and 25s. His plane was hit and he spent a year in Germany as a POW.

Having married Elizabeth before being sent overseas, they began a family while he acquired a second degree in Mechanical Engineering. They had two boys and two girls and were married for 52 years before she passed. He believed that the Lord selected Florence Fry as his second wife. She wasn’t so sure. They were married 11 wonderful years. Forrest always spoke of how much he loved both his wives and how lucky he had been in his life. Professionally, he was an engineer for Monsanto, ending his service in St. Louis involved in energy conservation.

His family and golf were his passions. He taught an adult Sunday School Class in East Hill Baptist Church for 42 years. He believed that the Lord had taken care of him throughout his life.

He is preceded in death by his loving wives, Elizabeth Bradford Nixon and Florence Fry Nixon; as well as his sister, Charlie Fay Flynn; his youngest son, Michael David; his son-in-law, Mike Braden; and his great-grandson, Beck Patterson. He is survived by his brother, Robert Avery Nixon; son, Forrest Nixon and his wife Pam; and daughters, Carol Sherman and Susan Braden. He was beloved by 13 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren.
Forrest Nixon lived a long life and made an impact on many he touched. Florence wrote: “Forrest – Living with you prevents the distraction of growing old.” He was loved and will be missed. The family plans to lay him to rest Labor Day weekend in Pensacola, Fla.

Photos courtesy of Jim Beckel Music, ehow, Air Force ISR Agency, idance and MadAboutSwing.



Made by Lena