Music 32

Leatha Nell (Blair) Nickell

December 4, 1927 ~ October 24, 2020 (age 92)


Leatha Nell Blair Nickell was born at Wrigley, KY on December 4, 1927 and passed away in West Liberty, KY on October 24, 2020. She was the daughter of Stanley Wayne Blair and Eva Mae Clevenger Blair. She has one brother Frederick Lane Blair of West Liberty. Leatha Nell started school at Wrigley and attended there until 1937 when her family moved to West Liberty.

Leatha Nell was an exceptional musician. Her early life centered around her talent for the piano. In high school she played for various events and played the piano at the West Liberty Methodist Church, where she also learned to play a Hammond organ.

She played a cornet in the high school band and excelled to the point where she ranked superior at the state contest in her instrument. She was to attend the national contest in Topeka, Kansas, but declined to go.

After graduation from high school, she attended Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware, OH where she was part of the college band. Ohio Wesleyan was too large for her, so she decided to transfer to Kentucky Wesleyan College in Winchester, KY where she could get a major in piano.

While at Kentucky Wesleyan she played and traveled with The Kentucky Wesleyan Singers. She was the first graduate of Kentucky Wesleyan with a Degree in Piano. She had a beautiful alto voice and was part of various college choruses and groups. She graduated from Kentucky Wesleyan College in 1950.

She married William Lynn Nickell on June 21, 1950. Lynn had graduated from Eastern Kentucky College the year before and was teaching and coaching at Salt Lick, KY. In the fall of 1950 they both were hired to teach at Silver Grove High School in Silver Grove, KY. Leatha Nell taught in the grades and directed a high school chorus. Lynn taught and was an assistant basketball coach. They made their home that year in Ft. Thomas, KY, a few miles from Silver Grove.

The Korean War had already started, actually when they were on their honeymoon in Florida. This event would considerably change the course of their lives for the next few years. Knowing Lynn would eventually have to go the Service soon, they moved to Ashland, KY where he took a job with Armco and worked in the accounting department and Leatha Nell taught private piano lessons. They would come back to West Liberty every weekend so she could teach piano lessons and he would play baseball.

Lynn volunteered for the US Air Force in the summer of 1951 and was called to duty on Christmas Day in 1951. He left West Liberty for basic training at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, TX and after completion, he was shipped to MacDill AFB in Tampa, FL. Leatha Nell joined him there and they spent two years in Tampa. Billy Lynn was born in Tamp in 1952.

Lynn was transferred to Guam, MI. Leatha Nell flew across the country with Billy who was two years old at the time, stayed in San Francisco a few days and then sailed for Guam aboard the USS Ainsworth and joined Lynn in 1954 and stayed there until Lynn was discharged in 1955. Dad always said, “Sometimes when I would get upset with her it would vanish quickly when I would think of that trip traveling alone with a two-year old half way around the world just to be with me.”

In 1956 Kent was born in West Liberty.

Leatha Nell taught private piano lessons for over fifty years at home and in Morgan County schools. During those years the West Liberty Christian Church purchased a Hammond organ and she played the organ faithfully with Mary K. Elam at the piano for more than fifty years also.

She was a member of the West Liberty Methodist Church at an early age and later transferred her membership to the West Liberty Christian Church. She was a devoted Christian woman, wife, and mother.

Leatha Nell was preceded in death by her parents, Stanley Wayne and Eva Mae Blair.

She is survived by her husband of more than seventy years, William Lynn Nickell. She is survived by her two sons, Billy Lynn Nickell who is married to Debra Ison Nickell and Joel Kenton Nickell who is married to Kimberly Vater Nickell. She is survived by her grandchildren, Lynzy Jade Carty (Jacob), William Stan Nickell (Rachel), Allison Marie Barlow (Adam), Joel Weston Nickell (Jessie). She is also survived by her great-grandchildren, Blaine Carty, Baylee Carty, Rose Nickell, Aurora Barlow, Weston Barlow, Lucy Mae Nickell, John Luke Nickell, and soon to be born, 2 additional great-grandchildren.

She is also survived by a brother, Frederick Lane Blair who is married to Melinda Craft Blair.

There are many nieces, nephews, and great nieces and nephews who were very dear to her.

She is also survived by three wonderful loving care givers, Darlene Nickell, Melinda Day, and Connie Gilliam.

Funeral service 1 p.m., Wednesday, October 28, 2020 at the West Liberty Christian Church, with Bro. Hunter Fraley and Bro. Adam Barlow officiating. Burial to follow in the Salyer Cemetery, West Liberty, KY. Visitation from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., Wednesday, October 28, 2020 at the West Liberty Christian Church.

Potter Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations be made to the West Liberty Christian Church.

Pallbearers: Stan Nickell, Joel Nickell, Jacob Carty, Adam Barlow, Clinton Blair, Tim Nickell, and Jamie Church.

Honorary Pallbearers:  Elders of West Liberty Christian Church.

COVID-19 regulations will be followed.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Leatha Nell (Blair) Nickell, please visit our floral store.


October 28, 2020

11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
West Liberty Christian Church

Funeral Service
October 28, 2020

1:00 PM
West Liberty Christian Church


West Liberty Christian Church
West Liberty KY 41472

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