Hale, Nathan Edward

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Nathan Edward Hale, 78, of Christiansburg formerly of Bent Mountain passed away January 14, 2019. He was preceded in death by his parents, Erby & Nora Hale; infant brother, Buck; sisters, Barbara Gene Hubband & husband, Dewey, Yvonne Matilda Gray & husband, Ben; and other cherished aunts, uncles and cousins.

Nathan is survived by his wife, Carolyn Shay Hale; sons and spouses, Bill and Debby Conner, Kenny Hale and Marie Browning, and Danny Hale; daughters and spouses, Linda and Ronny Schroh, Jill Hale and Wayne Wray, and Melanie Gusler; grandchildren; Chico Conner, Tony Conner, Randy Horne, Donny Schroh, Christina Hale, Nathan Hale, Kenny Hale, Turner Gusler, and Nevaeh Hale; greatgrandchildren, Nathaniel Conner, Alexis Conner, Maddie Conner, Carson Horne, and Leah McGeorge; nieces, Cathy Bell (Doug), Vicky Rappold (Ken); nephew, Bill Gray (Heather); great nieces; Kari Rappold, Katie Rappold, Regan Gray, and Kaylee Gray; great nephew, Jake Gray; in-laws; George and Gaynelle Shay.

Visitation will be on Monday, January 21 from 2 to 4 & 6 to 8 p.m. at Horne Funeral Home. A celebration of life and military honors will be on Tuesday, January 22 at 2:30 p.m. in the funeral home chapel with Rev. Neil Turner officiating. Following the Celebration of Life everyone is invited to a gathering for fellowship, food and music at Hope Center, 80 Diamond Ave., Christiansburg.

Nathan served his country in the Army and Army National Guard from 1958-1961. Patriotism was always near to his heart as he was aptly named “The Patriot”, Nathan Hale. He retired as Plant Superintendent of the Longspan Shop at John Hancock Steel Company in Salem, VA after 43 years of service.

He was also a proud member of the Lakeland Masonic Lodge in Roanoke, VA.

Born on Bent Mountain, VA, Nathan was always a proud native of his birthplace. He enjoyed the beauty of life in the country while learning the value of work and appreciating what it took to keep a family together. After losing his beloved mother, Nora, at a young age, Nathan and his siblings took on extra responsibility and care of one another.

Nathan’s parents, Erby and Nora, enjoyed dancing and Nathan shared their love of bluegrass music and dance as he went on to be quite the “flat-footer”.

At 14 years old, Nathan had a rare opportunity to travel outside the immediate area and his first trip out of VA to the “foreign land” of Asbury Park, NJ. As the local 9th-grade marble-shooting champion at Elmwood Park, his trophy landed him the right to compete at the National Marble Tournament.

Some of his favorite childhood memories included visits from his older sister, Gene, who lived in Richmond, VA. She would send and bring unexpected packages of clothing and luxury treats like chewing gum.

As a teenager, both he and his older sister, Yvonne, walked from home to work as “car-hops” at the local Bent Mountain Drive-In Restaurant. Before entering the military and going on to become a steelworker, Nathan worked for the USDA inspecting and grading eggs for Coles Egg Farm on Bent Mountain. For fun, in his day many young men used highway 221 as their own personal speedway and Nathan told many tales of “fast times” on Bent Mountain.

Growing up, Nathan enjoyed sports, baseball and basketball in particular, and went on to play and coach as an adult. Pitching horseshoes became a favorite pastime that he shared throughout the years with co-workers, friends, and family whether in the backyard or on the beach. Although giving it up in recent years, hunting was a part of his life. Playing cards, boating, attending the Kentucky Derby, watching horse racing at Charles Town, WV, fishing, raising pet chickens, mowing, “critter-watching” including showing everyone all the herons, deer, possums, squirrels, “red birds” geese, turtles, frogs, turkeys, and ducks that visited the yard, and “piddling” around home became some of his best ways to enjoy life. Although home was his favorite place to be, Nathan had a sense of adventure and was up for trying new things and seeing new places.

He loved going on cruises and to the coast. Going to NASCAR races and later just watching on television with family and friends was another fun hobby that he shared with many. “Go, Kyle Busch”!!! He rooted for the New York Yankees in baseball and became an avid Dallas Cowboy football fan. He always enjoyed creating controversy in rooting for his college team of choice, Va Tech, in a divided household of UVa fans.

He dearly loved all the pets he ever owned. His beloved dog, “Ajax”, is missing him every day. He greatly enjoyed watching and playing with his other dog “Romo” in the yard. Just one week before Christmas he lost his sweet, comforting cat, “Doc”.

One of Nathan’s greatest gifts, that we are already dearly missing, was his gift of gab and love for “storytelling”. Countless hours spent sharing laughs and even hearing the same stories, repeatedly, brought so much joy to many.

Nathan was extremely proud of all of his children, grandchildren, extended family and honored their accomplishments. He knew the value of family and sacrificed every day in some way for others. There was nothing that he wouldn’t do for you if he possibly could help in any way. In recent years he was more quiet due to impaired hearing, but always thoughtful and patient with others as we tried our best to communicate and to include him in all conversation.

We adored his funny way with some words and sayings that became known as “PawPaw-isms”.

Nathan was a fine man, a true Southern Gentleman, a loving son, brother, uncle, husband, father, and PawPaw. He was such a good friend to many. Whether you were making a service call as the propane man, HVAC crew, service technician for the vehicles, the barber, the healthcare worker, you were always so much more to him. He built relationships never merely making aquaintances.

He was a patient, private, man of faith. We particularly enjoyed the years we attended Cedar Springs Union Church together and how he prayed over meals at home.
Some of his recent most treasured activities included watching his grandson, Turner, aka “Grasshopper”, participate in activities from sports to acting, singing, and learning to play PawPaw’s violin. One of Turner’s beloved coaches shared with us, on Nathan’s passing, that “he was always someone that I looked forward to seeing and talking to and that I will never forget his smile and his love for watching Turner and the other children play”.

Yes, one of the most memorable smiles that lit up everything around him…
We miss you so deeply, we love you forever, and look forward to seeing you again some sweet day.
Every night as Nathan went to bed he would share, “See ya in the mornin’…good Lord’s willin’…”