Nada Burgin Carroll, whose painting recalling Old Fort's early history was reproduced for the town's first outdoor mural, passed away Friday, Dec. 22, 2017. She was 87 years old, the daughter of Harry Mitchell Burgin and Grace Peterson Burgin.
Her Burgin forebears go back to pioneer Benjamin Burgin who settled on land just outside Old Fort in the latter half of the 18th century. Nada's investigation of family history led to concern for local historic preservation, and after she and her husband, Charles Harry Carroll, moved to Old Fort in 1984, she became a leader in the effort to save the old Train Depot beside the well-known Arrowhead Monument. She was one of the founders of the Heritage Foundation that achieved not only that goal, but also started the Christmas lighting tradition, developed the small park located in downtown Old Fort between Main and Railroad Streets and created both Pioneer Day at the Mountain Gateway Museum and Ole Mountain Christmas. Nada donated the original painting used for the mural to the Foundation, and prints were made and sold to raise funds. It now hangs in Old Fort Town Hall. To further assist fund raising, she donated two more paintings and made numerous items to sell at the Foundation's bazaars.
A devoted believer in environmental protection, Nada loved to watch the birds, chipmunks, and squirrels that came to the numerous bird feeders around her home. For a number of years she wrote a column, "Appalachian Perspectives" for the News Bulletin of McDowell County and "Mountain Miscellany," for the Old Fort Post, in which she described the natural world around her, presented glimpses of daily life, and reported on local people and events. She helped others write their family histories for McDowell County Heritage, published in 1992, and, being a member of the Old Fort Extension Homemakers, wrote its entry for that volume as well as other entries. Books on every subject were always a part of her life, and Friends of the Library had the support of both Nada and her husband. Working at the polls on Election Day was an extra service she willingly performed. Strong in her faith, Nada was a long-time member of Bethel United Methodist Church, where headstones of Burgin ancestors remain in the church cemetery. She sang in the choir, regularly taught Sunday school, and served as pianist for Sunday services. In her later years, she attended Old Fort United Methodist Church.
Nada's paintings won First Place and Best of Show awards in Raleigh and Charleston, S.C. A half-page, illustrated article entitled "One Of Charleston's Best Artists Now Lives And Paints In Old Fort" was published in The McDowell News in October 1985. Nada and her husband had moved from Charleston to Old Fort, having lived in many places, including Japan, while Harry served in the United States Air Force. "We've lived in a lot of places," Nada is quoted in the article, "and we've done a lot of traveling, and of all the places we've been, we like Old Fort best. It's like coming home." Now, through the efforts of Arrowhead Gallery and others, the greatly enlarged reproduction of her painting recalling Old Fort's early history, entitled "A Time to Build," can be seen on the east side of Catawba Avenue on a high wall the in the Mill Creek Village shopping area. The Arrowhead Monument depicted in her painting is not far away.
Nada Carroll is survived by her husband, retired U. S. Air Force Master Sgt. Charles Harry Carroll; her daughter, Anita Carroll Edmonds of Marion; her son, Harry B. Carroll of Old Fort; her daughter, Margaret A. Fretwell and husband, David Fretwell of Old Fort; her sister, Jean B. Kolb and husband, Harold H. Kolb Jr. of Covesville, Va.; nine grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.
Donations in Nada's memory may be made to Heifer International, 1 World Ave., Little Rock, AR 72202; Foothills Conservancy, P. O. Box 3023, Morganton, NC 28655; or Healing Hearts Small Animal Rescue, P. O. Box 1321, Old For, NC 28762. There are no planned services at this time.
Kirksey Funeral Home is honored to be assisting the Carroll family.