100 years in the eyes of Nell
By Bobby Lee McCulley | April 30, 2018 6:49 am
In what many consider to be the greatest birth milestone, Nell Marchbanks, born on May 23, 1918, will have spent 100 years on this earth in less than a month and have celebrated a century of caring for those she loves.
From raising six children, serving 28 years as White County’s first female county commissioner, and having a dedicated career with The Expositor, Marchbanks has had a lifelong journey serving both her family and her community.
Raised in the Sam Chapel Community (Big Spring – Blue Springs area) of White County on her family farm, Marchbanks was the seventh child out of eight children. Marchbanks graduated from high school, in 1940, and attended Tennessee Tech University, 1941-1943, before marrying, having six children of her own, and starting her career in media.
In 1959, Marchbanks began her career working in the local newspaper industry with the Sparta News-Pictorial, which served as a local newspaper until 1961, before merging with The Expositor.
“Its about the only job I’ve ever had, besides raising kids,” stated Marchbanks, while smiling.
When asked about her career with the newspaper, “I did about everything – from circulation manager, bookkeeping, inserting papers, writing a cooking column – just about everything,” she said.
Later on in life, Marchbanks was elected, in August 1974, to become White County’s first female county commissioner, where she would continue to serve for 28 years. Marchbanks has one of the longest tenures serving as county commissioner, in White County.
“I was working at The Expositor at the time, and a lot of people was coming in there with ideas and everything,” stated Marchbanks about running for county commissioner. “So I just thought maybe I could do something. I was just a little old country girl and just wanted to make a difference.”
Living in town throughout her life in the West Bronson area, Marchbanks was able to walk everywhere she needed to go in Sparta. Marchbanks never learned how to drive, but despite not learning to drive, Marchbanks led an active community life as well.
Marchbanks was one of the original members of the Business and Professional Women’s Club, in Sparta, has been a member of the Eastern Star for the past 67 years, and is the oldest member of the First United Methodist Church, in Sparta.
Over the course of the past 100 years, Marchbanks has seen and experienced a great deal of changes, from The Great Depression, living through both world wars, the great space race, landing on the moon, the women’s right to vote, 18 presidents, and the constant advancement of technology, just to name a few.
“I’ve seen a lot of changes over the years – I just hate to see what it will be like from now on,” laughed Marchbanks. “I’m already beginning to see changes take place that I’d never imagine.”
When asked about what she will do on her 100th birthday, Marchbanks stated her children were planning a party for her. Later in the fall, when the weather is cooler, Marchbanks will be taking her annual trip to beach with her family as well.
Regarding advice Marchbanks would like the younger generations to remember, she stated, “Just be kind. The one thing I can tell young people is to be yourself and treat people like you would want to be treated. I don’t care how bad somebody is – there is always something good you can find in everyone.”
First National Bank, in Sparta, will be honoring Marchbanks and her life well lived, with a reception, 2-4:30 p.m., May 2, at the bank.