Mullings – Mrs. Joe Nell Glenn Waters, the Epitome of an Educator

Born on January 14, 1955, Mrs. Joe Nell Glenn Waters, 69, left an indelible imprint upon the lives of countless students and countless educators as she served in the roles of teacher and later as an administrator in several schools in our area.

Those years as an administrator saw Ms. Joe Nell first work as an assistant principal at Kenwood Middle School after completing several years in the classroom at New Providence Middle School. Later she served as principal at Montgomery Middle School, and for a short period following her retirement from the Clarksville-Montgomery County School District, she became an assistant principal in the Logan County School District. When asked to use her leadership talents at TCCHS, she accepted that challenge and became principal of Todd County Central High School, her alma mater. A 1973 graduate of TCCHS and an educator for 35 years, Ms. Joe Nell fought a valiant battle against cancer, sadly succumbing to it on May 7, 2024.

Aside from her husband of 45 years, Larry Waters, and her mother, Mrs. Belvie Glenn, Ms. Joe Nell is also survived by her younger brother, Glen Glenn, as well as her sister-in-law, Mrs. Sheila Turner Glenn (wife of the late Eddy Glenn), and several nieces and nephews. Mrs. Lynda Oliver, whose daughter April is married to a nephew of Ms. Joe Nell, shared on Facebook, “As I sit here this morning, I can’t help but think about a true friend. Joe Nell Waters is the definition of what a friend is. She was always smiling, always saying kind words, and always there if you needed her.” Another who knew her, Mrs. Norma Johnson Williams of Guthrie, added, “Another Guthrie saint gone!” An active member of Guthrie Church of Christ, Ms. Joe Nell for many years taught a ladies’ Bible class at “Holly Hills,” her beloved historic home, sharing with her many friends the love of God that so dominated her life. One who knew Ms. Joe Nell well commented, “I have always known that Joe’s Lord and Savior were her first loves. Her life was a true example of Christian service.”

In a Facebook post, Mrs. Sonja Dill Carlock, a former secretary at TCCHS when Ms. Joe Nell served as principal, penned, “I am sorry to hear her beautiful light is gone. To think of her is to think of grace and beauty.” Those words by Ms. Sonja describe Ms. Joe Nell perfectly as she always radiated a warm smile and an immaculate appearance to match her cheerful and heartfelt disposition. Several who knew Ms. Joe Nell through their years as students at TCCHS echoed the sentiments that she ranked as one of the top administrators at TC, always willing to assist students in whatever they needed. Ms. Marla Herrell Gillespie, a former substitute teacher at TC, posted on Facebook, “I always enjoyed subbing with her as principal. I knew she would be there if I needed her, and if I had any problems, she took care of them. She loved her school and her students as well.”

Another graduate of TCCHS and a former math teacher at Todd Central, Mrs. Jessica Addison, shared, “She was so supportive of me when she was my principal and such an encouragement to me when new opportunities came my way. Her light and love will be missed.” Those sentiments of admiration are so very evident as Ms. Joe Nell devoted so much of her energy and time following her retirement serving the communities and county she loved dearly. Mrs. Bobbie T. Dorris, a member of the Robert Penn Warren Birthplace Committee, messaged, “Joe Nell was a delightful person. She always had a positive outlook and was an asset to our committee. I feel blessed to have known her through our work with the RPW Birthplace Committee.” A steadfast supporter of Todd County’s past and our historical buildings, from 2014 through 2016, Ms. Joe Nell served as a trustee on the Green River Academy Board, again investing her time, talents, and energy to preserve the Academy, one of the first institutions of formal education in the Green River area.

Obviously, many feel sadness in the loss of a dedicated educator, beloved Christian, and devoted friend; however, folks may also find some comfort realizing Ms. Joe Nell passed away during a week set aside to honor educators, another fitting tribute to one whose life’s focus was on serving others and educating the next generation of youth in our county and area. One who knew Ms. Joe Nell, Ms. Bonnie Baird Watson, stated, “She was a sweet and precious spirit-loving woman. I count myself very blessed that I knew her.” Ben Kemplin, an educator in Logan County, added, “She was one of the best, a true friend and no kinder soul I have ever met.”

~ Article by Carolyn L. Wells

May 11, 2024

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