Cover photo for Nancy Jane Nelms Garrett's Obituary
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Nancy Jane Nelms Garrett

June 29, 1940 — December 26, 2023


Nancy Jane Nelms Garrett

Nancy Jane Nelms Garrett, 83, of Kingsport, passed away on Tuesday, December 26, 2023, after a period of declining health. Nancy was born in Kingsport on June 29, 1940, to Hugh Edward Nelms and Frankie Jane Pendleton. Her father was the owner of Baylor Nelms Furniture, a family business since the early days of Kingsport. Her mother was from Dungannon, Va.; the Pendleton Islands are a part of her family’s former farm. The Nelms residence was an early house in Fairacers, where Nancy enjoyed playing outside and riding her horse, Queen, to such places as the Short Hills, beyond present day Stone Drive.


Nancy graduated from Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, Ga., with a Bachelor of Science degree in botany. She met her husband, Arthur Randolph Garrett, at the University of Georgia, where they both earned master’s degrees in botany.


Nancy and Arthur were married in Kingsport on July 10, 1965. The couple lived in Oxford and Atlanta for three years. Nancy was on the faculty at Emory College in Oxford. During her husband’s military service, the couple lived in Montgomery, Ala, for two years. The couple then resided in Mobile, Ala. from 1968 to 1981. While in Mobile, their children Melissa and Hugh were born. In Mobile, Nancy was active in many Gulf Coast conservation matters. She was instrumental in establishing the Week’s Bay Reserve in Fairhope, Ala. The family moved to Kingsport where Nancy taught at Dobyns Bennett High School. Nancy loved her ten years teaching and regarded her students as her own children.


Nancy was an enthusiastic member of the Delphian Club and the Kingsport Garden Club. She worked constantly to expand her lectures on the history of Roan Mountain and on the diverse plants of the bromeliad family. Throughout her life she sought information on the Overmountain Men, Mary Patton, and the Battle of King’s Mountain as well as the Victorian Era Cloudland Hotel. Nancy was a long-time leader of the Survivor’s Club, initially composed of long-time residents over aged 70. This organization became the current Kingsport Historical Society.


Nancy was a committed bird watcher from childhood. She pursued her feathered friends from Central America to Africa, Europe, Alaska, Hawaii, and the four corners of the contiguous United States. Her children and grandchildren continue this legacy. She was an enthusiastic Crimson Tide football fan.


Nancy dedicated her time to taking care of her children and grandchildren. She will be greatly missed by her grandchildren who describe her as incredibly smart and kind and that her family was always the most important thing to her.


Nancy is survived by her husband, Arthur Garrett, daughter, Melissa Garrett of Asheville, N.C. and son, Hugh Edward Garrett and his wife, Katey, of Simpsonville, SC. Also surviving are her grandchildren Jack, Ava, Arthur, Nora Frances, and Hugh Nelms.


Visitation will be held at Hamlett-Dobson Funeral Home, Kingsport from 5:00-7:00pm on Friday, December 29th. The funeral service will be held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at 1:00pm on Saturday, December 30th, with The Rev. Jonathan "Johnny" Tuttle officiating. The graveside service at Oak Hill Memorial Park will be at 3:00pm on Wednesday, January 3rd.


In lieu of flowers, please make donations to:

Dauphin Island Bird Sanctuaries, Inc.

P.O. Box 1295
Dauphin Island, AL  36528

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Nancy Jane Nelms Garrett, please visit our flower store.

Past Services


Friday, December 29, 2023

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Eastern time)

Hamlett-Dobson Funeral Homes - Kingsport

117 E. Charlemont Avenue, Kingsport, TN 37660

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Funeral Service

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Starts at 1:00 pm (Eastern time)

St. Paul's Episcopal Church

Kingsport, TN

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Graveside Service

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Starts at 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

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