(Editor's note: The following is a tribute written by the late Roland Nunn to his older brother, T. Emmett Nunn. Trion historian Brad Hayes received a copy of the nine-page document in 2014 from Thurman Day. Brad has included additional information about the Nunn family.)
Thomas Houston Nunn (January 1854 – November 1926) married Sophronia “Fronie” Emmerline Hunsucker (September 1858 – July 1950) in September 1876 in Chattooga County, Georgia. Thomas and Fronie Nunn had the following children: Sallie Nunn Alexander (1879-1945), Jesse Lee Nunn (1883-1961), Ada Nunn Pounders (1885-1963), Dallas Callaway Nunn (1886-1958), Mary Maggie Nunn Bailey (1889- ), Fulmer P. Nunn (1892-1949), Clara Nunn Haygood (1894-1985), Bunnie Emmaline Nunn Whitehead (1898-1960), and Annie Mae Nunn Day (1900-1980).
Sallie Nunn married John William Alexander. Jesse Lee Nunn married Minnie Belle Fincher. Ada Nunn married John Pounders. Dallas Callaway Nunn married Mattie Owens and Foye Hendrix. Mary Maggie Nunn married Jim Bailey. Fulmer P. Nunn married Martha Belle Griffitts. Clara Nunn married Charles D. Haygood. Bunnie Emmaline Nunn married Connie Walter Whitehead. Annie Mae Nunn married George Joseph Day.
Thomas and Sophronia “Fronie” Nunn were buried at Trion Cemetery along the Trion River in East Trion. The graves rest along the edge of First Street in Frogtown. Roland Nunn stated, Thomas and Sophronia Nunn “had 13 children that populated about half of the town of Trion.”
Jesse Lee Nunn (January 8, 1883 – May 31, 1961) married Minnie Belle Fincher (August 6, 1885 – November 18, 1918). Minnie Nunn passed away during the “Flu Epidemic of 1918”. Jesse Lee Nunn married Julia Wright Estes in 1920.
T. Emmett Nunn was born on February 18, 1921. The Nunn family lived on the east side of 9th Street behind the cotton mill. The house was just above the barbershop. The family later moved to Frogtown and lived in the last house on the right on Alabama Street. The Nunn’s lived on Alabama Street until March 1931. While living in Frogtown, Roland S. Nunn was born on December 23, 1930. The Nunn family left Frogtown and moved to the hill on Fifth Street. Alfred L. Nunn, son of Jesse Lee and Minnie Belle Fincher Nunn passed away on March 14, 1931 at the age of 29.
Roland Nunn had in his possession a picture of his older brother as a Trion football player in 1938-1939. In T. Emmett’s own handwriting, the back of the picture read, “Emmett Nunn, All City Fullback, 1938-1939.” Roland told the story that T. Emmett deliberately failed his senior year at Trion High School, in order to play another year with the Bulldogs. Roland Nunn said, “Whether or not this is true is a mystery, but knowing that old rebel spirit he had, it is probably true.” Sibyl Langston is pretty sure she remembers Glee Bryant, Marvin Hollis, and T. Emmett all preferred staying an extra year at Trion High…some just want to be a Bulldog for life.
After graduating from Trion High School with the Class of 1940, T. Emmett worked in the Packing Department at Riegel Textile Corporation, where he remained throughout World War II. After several restless nights and bad dreams, T. Emmett turned in his resignation at the cotton mill to begin a career in photography. T. Emmett Nunn the photographer became a reality and his long career in Trion had its beginning in the late 1940s.
I am not sure I know what the “T” stands for in T. Emmett Nunn’s name, but I am willing to believe it could stand for “Trion” – Trion Emmett Nunn. He is one of Trion’s greatest Bulldogs, friend, historian, photographer, and sports writer. T. Emmett Nunn is Trion!
In 1952, Trion’s smokestack was demolished, and just days before T. Emmett was photographing Trion from the top of the old smokestack. T. Emmett’s camera has recorded the history of Trion’s treasured past, and the community grew to love his photographs. When the ‘Big Friendly’ was demolished in the 1960s, he was there to photograph brick by brick and plank by plank. When the old Riegeldale Diary was dismantled, T. Emmett was there. When the old Trion “Y” and old Trion Grammar School were demolished and replaced, T. Emmett was there snapping photographs. In 1976, as the old Trion Inn/Town Hall burned, he stood beside Mayor Jake Woods and photographed until the fire burned out.
T. Emmett photographed and sold his pictures in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. He photographed weddings, reunions, and most sporting events. He photographed the Trion High Bulldogs in all sports. He photographed the Trion Recreation Pee Wee, Mites, Midgets in football, and Tee Ball, Little League, and Pony League in baseball. He photographed the cheerleaders in high school and recreation. He photographed the ‘Pride of Trion’ Marching Band. He photographed the Most Valuable Players, Hoop Shooters, and Homerun Kings. He took individual pictures, action shots, and team photos. His automobile was a rolling photography business.
T. Emmett was on the Trion sideline when Coach Clarence Blevins and the Bulldogs were named football state champions in 1974. He was at the baseball field when Coach J.W. Greenwood and the Bulldogs were crowned state champions in 1983. I still think I remember Mrs. Gertie sitting in the car at the outfield fence along Pine Street when the Dogs won in 1983. One of his greatest sporting events to attend and photograph was the Trion vs. Lincoln County playoff game in the Georgia Dome on December 12, 2003 in Atlanta.
The year 2003 saw Coach Mark Loudermilk and the Bulldogs finish 12-2, with a semifinal playoff game in the Georgia Dome, but 2003 was the year that T. Emmett lost the love of his life. T. Emmett and Gertie loved to cruise and drive around Trion. On January 16, 2003, as the Nunn’s crossed Highway 27 at the Mountain View intersection, T. Emmett apparently did not see the approaching car. The Nunn’s car was hit on the driver’s side, and Gertie was critically injured. T. Emmett sustained back injuries, fractured ribs, and neck injuries. Both were rushed by ambulance to Floyd Medical Center’s Emergency Room. As news of the accident filled the town of Trion, the community went into prayer mode. Meanwhile, T. Emmett and Gertie were placed in separate rooms in the critical care unit of Floyd Medical Center. Just a few hours later, Mrs. Gertie Barrett Nunn passed away. T. Emmett was not told that his 83-year old wife had passed.
Gertie Barrett was born on February 5, 1919, and passed away on January 16, 2003. After her passing, T. Emmett suffered the loss of his love, but he found comfort in his many friends. He also found comfort outside the town limits of Trion. He loved to eat breakfast and chat with good friends at the Summerville McDonalds. He loved riding in the motorized buggy in Wal-Mart or sitting on the inside or outside benches. It was in these public places that T. Emmett continued to live, but his greatest enjoyment came inside the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on December 12, 2003. He was wearing his Trion lettermen jacket, when Erik Green, reporter for the Rome News-Tribune interviewed him on December 12, 2003. This is Green's report:
“Trion historian and newsman T. Emmett Nunn once chronicled the town in a compendium called, ‘One Way To See It.’ The journal was penned a few years ago and is a marvelous historical record of a town rich in tradition and community camaraderie. In it are faces and stories of politicians, common folk and local heroes of the playing field. There’s the Trion city council in 1977, the band of 1957 and a scene from the Glove Mill leather-sewing department in 1943, among others. It is a special community gem. I had a chance to meet Mr. Nunn at a Trion football practice late this summer. He and some fans had congregated at the field house to watch practice and we all had a good talk about Trion football. It wasn’t quite the hot topic it is today, this day the Bulldogs play in the semifinals of the Class A state playoffs at the Georgia Dome. But we discussed at length how the Bulldogs probably had the best team the school had seen in quite some time. We talked about the teams of old, like the 1974 team that beat Lincoln County for the state championship. And we might have talked about how this year’s team could be playing for a title again. But never would we have imagined they would be playing Lincoln County to get back to the title game. But that is the case. No. 1 Lincoln County, a team coached by the winningest coach in Georgia high school football history (Larry Campbell), stands in Trion’s way of reaching the state championship game. It’s perhaps fitting that it is this way. After all, the Bulldogs have consistently turned it up a notch every single game — except one. The Bulldogs’ only loss came in Week 2 against Ringgold and countless Trion fans have told me that should have never happened. Whatever it did to the Bulldogs psychologically worked. Maybe they got over the thrill of being highly regarded by the fans, the media and opposing coaches. They learned that, yes, even they could be beat. But they grew from it and got better.
"They went on to basically sweep Region 6A-A and walk through their Region 6-A schedule with ease. But just when I thought they could not get any better, the playoffs happened. They beat a pretty bad Johnson County team the first week and handed it to a decent Jefferson team the next. But then they throttled a Dooly County team whose quarterback almost set a state record for passing yards in a game with 457. That was a big test, a big what-are-you-made-of wake up for the Bulldogs. Now they have Lincoln County, whose very name provokes fear in some. Not these Bulldogs, who have been playing since they were 12 years old for this. Should they be fearful? Give me a break. Why? No one has shut them down offensively and no one can keep them out of the end zone. This is a team that runs the ball 98 percent of the time and still scores 40 points a game. Some out there have said there is no way they can beat Lincoln County. I ask why not? This is just another test, another memory destined for the next journal ofheroes and legacies. And this is one legacy that is not ready to end.”
Erik Green’s final comment could easily describe Trion’s own T. Emmett Nunn – “This is one legacy that is not ready to end.” However, we all must depart one day. October 19, 2006, set in place the final game that would end the “T” legend.
The late Roland Nunn recorded, “My wife and I were headed down to Wendy’s and noticed a couple of school buses caught up in a line of traffic in front of Wal-Mart. Traffic was being detoured through Trion Heights, Back Penn Road, and back out on Highway 27 in Pennville. We ate a sandwich at Sub Delight, and returned home later that evening. Upon returning home, we had a phone message from our daughter, Marilyn. The message was that T. Emmett had been in an accident.” T. Emmett had been taken to Redmond Regional in Rome by ambulance. He was in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Roland stated, “Nolan Crisp drove me to see my brother the next morning. We found T. Emmett in stable condition.”
While hospitalized, Tab Gable, Jimmy Rosato, and Jess and Margaret Emory were frequent visitors. After almost seven days at Redmond, T. Emmett was transferred to Floyd Medical Center. At one point, while in the hospital, T. Emmett told a close friend, “I have messed up this time.” T. Emmett knew that if he left the hospital, he would spend several weeks or months in the nursing home for rehabilitation. According to Roland, he took the news calmly and seemed to accept it.
At 1:30, on the morning of December 4, 2006, T. Emmett left this world. With the blink of an eye, he breathed his final breath, and gave one last heartbeat for his ‘Favored Land’ – TRION.
“Once A Bulldog, Always A Bulldog.” T. Emmett Nunn was laid to rest in the Trion lettermen’s jacket given to him by the 2003 Bulldogs.
Nunn at the 1960 Orange Bowl.
Thanks to Trion historian Brad Hayes for the wonderful tribute to T. Emmett Nunn.