EARLY BUSINESS, CIVIC LEADER 

J. ROY NUNNALLY REMEMBERED  

By Nowell Briscoe ( nowellbriscoe@bellsouth.net)

Published in the Walton Tribune, Monroe, Georgia

          The work ethics instilled in Josiah Roy Nunnally by his father, William Hartwell Nunnally at a very early age were remembered and adhered to the remainder of his life following in his father’s footsteps in becoming one of Monroe’s most prominent, successful business and civic leaders of the day.

          Josiah Roy Nunnally was born in Good Hope, Ga. on November 13, 1880. After his family moved to Monroe from their Good Hope, Georgia farm in 1885 and his father opened the W.H. Nunnally Company on Broad Street, a mercantile and general store, young Roy Nunnally learned his father’s way of dealing with customers and staff well before his feet touched the floor from the stool upon which he sat, serving as “cash boy” for the store.  His dedication and conscientious attitude towards his work landed him at age eight the job of local agent for the Atlanta Journal.

          After graduating from the Monroe Schools, Roy Nunnally attended North Georgia Military College in Dahlonega. Finishing his studies there he spent two years at the University of Georgia where he was active in as many student activities as his studies would allow. He joined the Phi Delta Theta social fraternity and in 1948 was presented with a 50-year certificate from the fraternity expressing their esteem to him for his generous contributions and help through the years.

          In 1899 Roy Nunnally left the University of Georgia to return to Monroe and joined his father in the retail business.  That same year he organized the Monroe Telephone Company, a prosperous enterprise he headed until May of 1927 when the company was sold to the Georgia Continental Telephone Company.

          With the death of W. H. Nunnally on October 29, 1930, Roy Nunnally continued at the helm of the business started by his father until 1934 when the concern was sold to Gallant-Belk Company. With the sale of the company, Mr. Nunnally retained ownership of the lumber & coal portion of the business, buying out the interests of the other heirs and becoming sole owner of Nunnally Lumber Company. His vision was to build a good company, representing high quality lumber and building materials and to serve well the retail lumber and building material trade.  Besides his lumber business Mr. Nunnally concentrated on his farms which led him to develop an interest in the Monroe Oil and Fertilizer Company, where he served first as vice-president and then president in conjunction with the lumber company.

          With his success as a business leader, Roy Nunnally was equally involved with the civic life of Monroe as well.  He served for many years as chairman of the City Board of Education along with serving as Councilman from his ward for two terms.  He also served for several years as commanding officer of the local military company and was given other signal honors and responsibilities.  All the duties and obligations he took on served to reflect back to the sense of duty and fidelity to his community he learned as a young boy from his father.

In 1947 Mr. Nunnally stepped down as the head of the fertilizer company but continued to serve as chairman of the board of directors.

One of the greatest examples of his generosity and civic pride was his joint gift with Mr. George W. Felker, Jr., who, in 1947 acquired the property and residence of the late C. T. Mobley on South Broad Street and was given to the First Methodist Church for the construction of a new church building to be erected on the site.  On August 28, 1949, at 4:30 p.m. the ground breaking ceremony was held on the present site of the church.  W. Elliott Dunwoody, Jr. was chosen as architect. Mr. Nunnally served as chairman of the building committee and furnished all the materials for the building at cost.  The new church building was dedicated on Wednesday, August 9, 1950.

The tenacious force that shaped and focused Roy Nunnally’s life as a business and community leader began to take a toll on his health in his 69th year, forcing him to cut back on his business involvements and community functions.  In the fall of 1950 he was hospitalized both in Atlanta and Monroe several times and upon his return to his Walton Street home it was the understanding that with bed rest and enjoying the visits of family and friends his health would improve.  On Tuesday morning, October 17, 1950, he suffered a fatal heart attack bringing to a close a life filled with integrity, purpose, foresight and vision for his town and community. 

J. Roy Nunnally’s life was recalled on a front page obituary in the October 20, 1950 issue of the Walton Tribune, where Editor Ernest Camp said of his long-time friend: “Roy Nunnally was personally one of the most amiable and companionable of men who loved the beautiful and sublime and whose life symbolized the highest and noblest concepts of citizenship.  He was a builder who contributed materially to the progress of the period which his useful life graced and will be long remembered for his innumerable acts of kindness, generosity, liberality and public spirit.”

Mr. Nunnally’s funeral took place on October 18, 1950 in the First Methodist Church sanctuary, one of the first funerals to be held in the new building he so carefully and conscientiously helped to create.

 

          Along with the wishes W. H. Nunnally instilled in his oldest son, that his business would remain in the family, Roy Nunnally’s concerns about his family business echoed that of his father’s.  Mr. Nunnally’s devotion to his company so impressed his family, his wife, Allie Felker Nunnally and daughter, Mrs. James M. Roberts determined to keep the company in the family. Mrs. Nunnally made the comment, “We are old in experience, young in aspiration and we look on every order as a trust which requires our best.”

          After Roy Nunnally’s death, the day to day operations of the company were handled by Mrs. Nunnally, Mrs. Roberts and Roy Nunnally’s grandsons, James M. Roberts, Jr., Roy Nunnally Roberts and William Nunnally Roberts.

          In 1956 a massive fire destroyed much of the original structure and warehouses. In 1957 the new office building complete with warehouse facilities and building material display rooms was dedicated on April 29 to the memory of its founder, J. Roy Nunnally.    

          The Nunnally family continued the lumber business until 1999 when the company closed and the property sold to the National Bank of Walton County.  Roy Nunnally’s grandson, James M. Roberts, Jr. was president when the company closed its doors to the public for the last time.

          The family business legacy which began in 1885 by William Hartwell Nunnally and carried on by his son J. Roy Nunnally and then by Mrs. Roy Nunnally, her daughter and grandsons for 114 years, marked Monroe’s oldest and longest running business enterprise which originated from the wise business counsel set in place by the elder Mr. Nunnally all those many years ago. Monroe became a much better city because of the love and foresight displayed by the Nunnally family when Monroe was chosen for their new home in the late 1880’s.