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Ed and Shirley Neville have ministered to people of all ages throughout their 33 years of marriage. They moved to Fairfield Glade two years ago and have already become known in Cumberland County as faithful volunteer helpers.

Ed and Shirley Neville, residents of the Glade for two years now, have been married for 33 years. “Somebody gave us a timeshare here when we got married,” recalls Shirley. “One morning we woke up while visiting and saw a deer loping along the lake. We said, ‘Gee, wouldn’t it be nice to have a cabin in the Glade?’” They found their log cabin two years ago and moved in.

“This was really the first time we’ve been alone,” said Shirley, recalling most of their prior years were spent raising children and grandchildren. Ed has one son, Geoff, who actually worked as the sports editor at the Crossville Chronicle some years ago. Today he is a sportswriter for the Franklin Times in Louisburg, NC. He is married to Lisa, and she brought two children, Heather and Jay, into the family.

Shirley has a son, Jack, who is an actuarial for Lincoln Financial in Concord, New Hampshire. Jack lives with his two New York City rescue cats. Shirley had a daughter too, Rebecca, but she became seriously ill and passed away in 2001, leaving three children behind, James, Camille and Nathan. Ed and Shirley took on the privilege of raising James and Camille; Nathan stayed with his father.

Ed and Shirley are blessed to have had the opportunity to raise two of their highly successful grandchildren.

In the beginning, Ed lived in Cincinnati, born and mostly raised; Shirley was raised in northern Kentucky — Covington — which sits across the river from Cincinnati.

Ed’s mother remarried, around the time Ed went to high school, and moved the family to Covington with her new husband.

Shirley laughs about their closely woven paths, “We went to the same high school at different times.”

Ed spent a 45-year career at Corken Steel Products in Covington. Shirley had a college background in accounting and some experience in banking, so she eventually worked in the big towers of Proctor and Gamble across the river. She stayed there 11 years doing internal auditing. “It was not an entry level position,” she says. She left the job when her daughter’s illness required her to have full-time care.

“I have volunteered for everything,” says Shirley. “Over the years we’ve been able to minister, from babies on up.”

Some of their involvement has been helping high school-aged remedial kids, at other times kids that were struggling, gifted, and/or talented. Ed adds that he likes to just take the time to sit down with kids and adults and get them talking to him; eventually, he wins them over and opens them up. It’s a gift.

The couple started attending Fairfield Glade First Baptist Church on Peavine Road.

“We’re the co-directors of the Sunday School now,” says Ed. “We will be in a position within the Sunday school to work with the kids. The children’s ministry keeps growing. We’re trying to reach out to not only Crossville, but the whole county.”

Their pastor, Dr. Leonard Markham, says, “They are some of the most faithful, most dependable people I’ve ever known. They really like the people and the kids like them. They’re very unusual people in that they are able to meet new people, and they do it quickly.”

From knowing Dr. Markham, the couple began assisting with his wife Debra's Cross Country Team at Crab Orchard Elementary, where she is the art teacher. The Markhams are the running coaches. Now there are 52 kids in the program, and they needed help.

“Ed and Shirley stepped up,” says Dr. Markham.

Ed explains, “We spend time talking with the kids at Crab Orchard cross country, just to let them know somebody out there loves them.”

Dr. Markham adds, “They get to know these kids, and they are all ages, first through eighth grades. Last year we had a girl, an eighth-grader; she had never had a father present, and in September, her mother passed away of cancer. She was going to have to move in with an aunt. Ed and Shirley already had a relationship with the girl, and they went to the funeral service to support her.

“They’re not only a big asset to our church, but a big asset to this community. They’re always telling me of someone they’ve met and invited to church and something we can do to help them.”

Music — to say the Nevilles love music would be an understatement. They are active in the church’s Celebration Choir, and they also go to nursing homes to sing as part of the Singing Brothers and Sisters. Ed’s a tenor; Shirley’s an alto. They’re practicing right now for the Christmas Cantata.

Ed likes to study the history of songs, and his favorite song is “Mary Did you Know”; Shirley likes the song she and Ed sang as a duo one time, “People Need the Lord.” A couple of weeks ago, they headed to Knoxville to attend a Gaither concert. To say the Nevilles love music — understatement.

You may recognize the Neville’s names if you read the church columns printed weekly in the Glade Sun. The couple write a column each week for their church. “It’s like anything else, if it’s in your blood, God will give you the strength to do it,” says Ed.

“He’s the speller,” says Shirley. “We each hear differently — a different part of the sermon seems to hit each of us.”

Togetherness is the key to a successful retirement for Ed and Shirley. They belong to the choir together, they write together, they serve as Sunday School directors together, and they work with the Cross Country team together — this is just among other things.

“We’re hanging out together,” says Shirley.

“We do everything together now,” Ed agrees.

Per Ed, “This is my last stop; I don’t expect to leave Tennessee. My mother was born and raised in Robbins, TN. I honestly believe this is where God wants us. There are a lot of people who think that. I think there is so much you can do here, that you’re not going to do in the northern states — they won’t let you.”

“We’re happy that we’re down here,” says Shirley. “I just love being here. It’s just a perfect place for us. I can’t say retire, you just can’t. As busy as we are in the retirement community, you just can’t retire.”

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