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A Life Lived: Joey Nave’s life was a testament of his love and faith

BY ROZELLA HARDIN
Editorial Director
rozella.hardin@elizabethton.com
Dealing with the loss of a loved one at any time is distressing. Losing someone to COVID-19 brings additional challenges.
For Pam Nave, her husband Joey’s COVID-19 sickness and resulting death made her realize how helpless she was and how big God is. “I have to rely on His strength when mine is all used up. And, in my broken condition, I have to realize that God loves me and has my best interest at heart even though I don’t understand,” she shared this week.
Joey Nave died January 12 at the age of 65 after an intense battle with COVID-19. Both, he and Pam were stricken with COVID-19 before Christmas. “I thought it would affect me more, but my case was light compared to Joey’s. COVID is brutal and it is no respecter of persons,” said Pam.
“And, we did all the right things. We wore face masks, were not in large crowds, social distanced. But, COVID attacked anyway,” said Pam.
Joey was treated for the infectious disease at the Johnson City Medical Center and was on a ventilator for much of the time.
“Joey was a good man. He fought hard to live. His faith and family were most important to him. He cherished his family and friends,” Pam, his wife of 30 years, shared.
Joey was the father of two grown children, Hunter and Jessica, and he had a grandson, Linkin, who was his pride and joy.
Pam described Joey as a very gentle and loving man, who enjoyed hunting and fishing. “He enjoyed hunting deer and turkey. He has lots of mounted deer heads,” Pam said with a chuckle.
He especially enjoyed hunting with his son and fishing with his grandson.
And, the turkeys he killed? “We liked turkey, so we usually cooked the turkeys he killed. The deer meat, not so much. However, his mom loved it, so he usually gave it to her,” said Pam.
In addition to hunting and fishing, Joey enjoyed football and had played high school football when a student at Hampton High.
He was a member of the Wild Turkey Federation and had fished in several tournaments.
Joey retired as a wire drawer for Mapes Piano String in Elizabethton. However, he enjoyed farming and Joey often said the best job he ever had was working at the Allen Dairy Farm in Siam. “He loved getting up and going to work at the dairy farm. And, he and Bill Allen became good friends,” said Pam.
Joey and Pam lived in the Bear Hollow community of Gap Creek. “We’ve always lived here…he grew up close by…and it was home to our children,” said Pam.
The family were members at Big Springs Baptist Church, where Joey and Pam rarely missed a service. “He was very faithful in church attendance and loved his church and the people he worshiped with,” said Pam.
“There was nothing complex about Joey. Joey was who he was, no pretense about him. He was a very caring person, and would give you the shirt off his back,” Pam said.
A neighbor wrote on Joey’s tribute page: “I’ll never forget Joey coming to my rescue when it snowed and my son fell out of a tree and broke his arm. Joey came and took us to the hospital. No one could get out of my driveway, but Joey could. I will always remember him coming to my rescue.”
That was the kind of neighbor Joey Nave was — always there to help in time of need, always encouraging, and had a smile and handshake for everyone.
He especially enjoyed being with his family, and they often enjoyed trips togethers, especially vacations to Destin, Fla. Pam said her husband enjoyed spending holidays with his family, but this Christmas it was different. Both, she and Joey were sick with COVID.
“Before that, he always enjoyed family get-togethers and good food. He liked burgers, fresh seafood, and almost everything else, except my chicken and dumplings,” Pam said with a mischievous laugh.
“Joey left us with so many good memories. One of the things he left us was a new patio and back porch, which he built just before he got sick. He was so proud of his handiwork…and it is a wonderful and tangible memory he leaves us,” said Pam.
“Joey is at peace. He is with Jesus. I’m happy for him. For those left behind, it is hard. Sometimes things seem overwhelming…those are the times we nestle close in God’s arms and trust, rest, and be comforted in knowing HE is still in control,” Pam wrote on her Facebook page.
Because of COVID-19, social-distancing requirements have limited funerals and burials…and that was the case with Joey Nave. There was no greeting of friends, no funeral, only a celebration of life scheduled at a later date.
COVID-19 not only takes precious lives, but it has changed the way we say good-bye to them.