Dr. Josh Wandell

Published 4:36 pm Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Dr. Josh Wandell, 41, of Elizabethton, walked effortlessly through the gates of Heaven on Saturday, February 15, 2020, from the Greystone Healthcare Center in Blountville surrounded by those he loved most, after a courageous battle with ALS also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Josh was born on August 20, 1978 and was the son of Steve Wandell and Betsy Geagley, both of Elizabethton.
Josh was a 1996 graduate of Elizabethton High School. Sports was his passion and he was involved and excelled in football, basketball, baseball and track. He was named to the TSSAA All-State team as a wide receiver his senior year in 1995. Following high school, he attended the University of Tennessee and East Tennessee State University. He then transferred to Tusculum College where he received his Bachelor Degree in Education in 2001. He received his first teaching job at Happy Valley Middle School where he taught, coached football, baseball and softball.
Josh continued his education at Lincoln Memorial University where he received a Master’s Degree and then a Doctorate in Education in 2012. It was in that year that he was also inducted into the Elizabethton High School Sports Hall of Fame.
Josh left his teaching position at Happy Valley Middle School to become the principal at his childhood school, East Side Elementary. It was in June of 2013 that he was diagnosed with ALS. Despite being diagnosed with a disease that robs you of the ability of your muscles, he didn’t quit or give up on life. In 2014, Josh was nominated as the Principal of the Year for the state of Tennessee. Children and education were his passion and he continued as principal until his retirement in 2016. In 2017, East Side Elementary School dedicated a facility, now named the Wandell Learning Center, to him.
Following his retirement, Josh devoted himself to ALS awareness by speaking at area churches, schools and community events. He was well known for the motto “Faith>Fear” a saying paraphrased from Joshua 1:9.
He was also known for taking part in multiple races throughout the region with the help of dedicated supporters known as Team Wandell. In 2018, he and teammate Jeff Vance raced in the Virginia Beach Shamrock Half Marathon where they set a new Guinness World Record for the fastest half marathon by a wheelchair racer. The annual Race for Wandell, a foot race to help with expenses incurred for Josh’s treatment, became the largest foot race in Carter County, raising both money and awareness for ALS.
Josh was also a member of the Tennessee Principal Association, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the All Pro Dad Organization and a member of First Christian Church in Johnson City where he was a member of the Prime Time Sunday School Class.
Those left to continue his legacy in addition to his parents include his devoted and loving wife of seven years, Tabitha Wandell, of the home; the lights of his life, his children, Jayla Wandell, Taylor Long and J.T. Long, all of the home; one brother, Neal Wandell of Johnson City; one sister, Elizabeth Wandell of Elizabethton; and his maternal grandmother, JoAnne Blair of Elizabethton. Several uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews and cousins also survive.
He was preceded in death by his paternal grandparents, Fred and Betty Wandell, and his maternal grandfather, John Geagley.
A service to honor and celebrate the life of Dr. Josh Wandell will be conducted at 7:30 p.m. Friday, February 21, at the Elizabethton High School Gymnasium with Mr. Travis Hurley, Pastor Gary Roe and Dr. Ronald Blackmore officiating. Music will be under the direction of First Christian Church of Johnson City and Jamie Schaff. The family will receive friends from 4 to 7:30 p.m., prior to the service. The family has requested that those who wish, wear their “Race for Wandell” T-shirt to celebrate Josh finishing his race. Honorary pallbearers will be the faculty, staff and students and their families of East Side Elementary School, Justin Wandell, Brian Culbert, T.J. Brown, Conner Brown, Patrick Brown, Matt Hardin, Adam Walton, Jason Wright, Gary Blevins, Derrick Nave, Nathan Hardin, Michael Lowe, Jon Whitson, Jeff Vance, Thomas Proffitt, Team Wandell, and “The Lunch Bunch.” Those who prefer memorials in lieu of flowers may make donations to The ALS Association, Gift Processing Center, P.O. Box 37022, Boone, IA, 50037-0022 or to The Gideons International Processing Center, P.O. Box 97251, Washington, DC, 20090-7251. Online condolences may be shared with the family on our website, www.tetrickfuneralhome.com
Dr. Wandell and his family are in the care of Tetrick Funeral Home, Elizabethton. Office: (423) 542-2232. Service Information Line: (423) 543-4917.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox