Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Paul Wade - Canaan's Land

Paul Wade, of Decatur, passed away on Wednesday, March 26, 2014, surrounded by his children, only a few feet away from where he was born 83 years ago.

A native and resident of Decatur for most of his life, he was a son of the late Fred Silas and Maggie Lee Wattenbarger Wade, and attended Tranquility Methodist Church. He was a great-great-grandson of James Wade, Michael Wattenbarger, Jonathon Thomas, John Hart, George P. Owen, Samuel McKeehan and Moses Snyder, all settlers of northwest McMinn County. He was a former member of the Future Farmers of America, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Instrument Society of America, the National Management Association and the Electric Power Research Institute.

He was a career employee of the Tennessee Valley Authority, having worked at Watts Bar, Widows Creek, Johnsonville, Shawnee and Bull Run Fossil plants. In 1984, he left the position of Plant Superintendent at Bull Run Steam Plant near Oak Ridge to become manager of TVA's Fossil Operations in Chattanooga. He retired in 1988 as director of the Division of Fossil and Hydro Power with responsibility for Fossil Operations, Hydro Operations, Maintenance and Engineering and Fossil Fuels Planning.

Although a Mechanical Engineer by profession, he was a mechanic by nature in the true Wade tradition. His way of life reflected his belief that an imperfect world with freedom to choose, is preferable to a perfect world without choice.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Tranquility Methodist Church, c/o Mary Ratledge, 433 County Rd. 218, Athens, TN 37303-7855; or through the office of Laycock-Hobbs Funeral Home in Athens, Tennessee.

The family would like to express a special thanks to Caris Healthcare for their sympathetic support and guidance. Condolences may be sent to

Canaan's Land

As I stand where the old church once stood and look out across the valley I can still hear, "On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand And Cast A Wishful Eye, Toward Canaan's Fair And Happy Land Where My Possessions Lie." Remembering the feel of new shoes on my feet, in my mind it is once again Homecoming Day at Rogers Creek."

With my eyes closed I look to my left and see my grandmother Gussie coming up the dusty road and crossing the old wooden bridge over the creek. She stops to rest in the shade of a large hickory tree beside the road as she is tired after the long walk from her big white house on top of the hill across the valley.

With my eyes still closed I look directly ahead and see the large yellow banner advertising Nehi that has been nailed along the front of Papa Wattenbarger's store porch. A dark skinned man from Athens is selling soft drinks and ice cream to the children lined up in front of the old porch.

I reach in my pocket and find the nickel that has been given to me for the occasion and take my place in line behind Jimmy, Ralph and Billie Rose. When the man hands me a cone of vanilla ice cream I give him my nickel, letting the ice cream melt and run down over my fingers before taking the first bite. I know the man will not be back again until next year.

I hear a squeaking sound and turn around to see Papa Wattenbarger sitting in his rocking chair on the front porch of his house just across the road from the store. I then smell something cooking and know Mama Wattenbarger is preparing dinner for all who will eat at her table today.

Coming Back to reality I realize this was a six year old boy's Canaan's Land, the best place on earth to be. I open my eyes hoping to see it once more as it was, but only empty fields lie before me. Where have all the people gone?

I search my fading memory and realize Gussie now lies on the hill behind me and near great grandpa John Hart and not far from Barg, Thelma and Agnes. Across the road at top of the hill to my right lies Jonathan and Jane, Marshal and Caroline, Jacob and Louisa, Grant and Lizzie, Maggie and Fred, Bobbye, Charlie and Aunt Dixie, who lived to be the oldest of all. Memories spanning 200 years of history they have taken to their graves.

I remember long ago when the church toll bell sounded across the valley all would stop to listen and wonder, for whom does it toll. Today I do not wonder. I know it tolls for me. "I Am Bound For The Promised Land, O Who Will Come And Go With Me, I Am Bound For The Promised Land." ------ "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, Blessed be the name of the Lord."

To the family I leave behind I give my love and take pride in who you are. And last I pray that future generations will know and honor our family's history that has at times been written in blood mixed with tears.

PAUL WADE (December 12, 1930 - March 26, 2014)


  1. I was sorry to hear of your loss. Mom and Daddy (Larry & Sandra Gayler) enjoyed the time spent with your father several years ago. Family ties are so important.

    1. Cheryl,
      Thank you so much for your comment. Dad really liked Larry and enjoyed spending time with him and the rest of the Texas branch of the family.