The “Representative JB Napier and Shirley Napier Memorial Bridge” was officially unveiled on Thursday, renaming the previously dedicated bridge only in honor of the late representative of the Democratic state, who served Maury County.
The bridge is a short walk from where the two officials spent most of their lives.
The bridge over Polk Lane recently reopened after undergoing a complete reconstruction. It runs through Isbell Branch less than a mile from the Napier Family Farm, a 200 acre lot that has been in the family for over 100 years.
The couple’s children, Tim Napier, twins Stan and Steve Napier and their daughter Millie Fite carry on the family legacy with eight children among their families.
“Our mom and dad, they loved this county, they loved this community, and it’s such an honor,” said Steve Napier at the dedication ceremony attended by county commissioners and officials.
“I remember my dad saying he crossed this bridge almost every day or so,” he said. “This bridge was special to him, and it is special to this family.”
The addition of their mother’s name to the bridge has been requested by the family, after she passed away last year. It was originally named in honor of their father in 2000.
“It’s like the old saying, behind every good man hides a good woman,” said Tim Napier. “It was a tandem team that really worked together. They just had this click together. You could count on one of them as much as the other.
Millie Napier Fite, her husband Brat and their stepdaughter Lori Napier were unable to attend the rally.
Dedicated public servants
JB Napier, a Democrat, represented Maury County in the 64th district of the Tennessee House of Representatives between 1982 and 1996. He chaired the House Conservation and Environment Committee, and in 1980 he was a delegate of the Democratic National Convention.
Shirley Napier spent 23 years as the Maury County Clerk and Petty Officer from 1975 to 1998.
The Maury County Commission unanimously passed the resolution, honoring the two Maury County natives by renaming the bridge near Mount Pleasant.
The resolution was submitted to the county legislature by longtime family friend, Commissioner Connie Green.
“I watched all the children being born and cradled a few babies,” Green said. “It’s a great family.”
During her career, Shirley Napier has also served as president of the Tennessee State Court Clerks Association, vice-president of the Tennessee County Officials Association, and a member of the Middle Tennessee Clerks Association.
She received the Liberty Bell Award from the Maury County Bar Association.
In 1951, she graduated from Hay Long High School in Mt. Pleasant and attended Martin Methodist College.
The two married on August 25, 1954 and shared 65 years of marriage.
Her husband attended Maury County schools and was a graduate of the Columbia Military Academy.
He briefly attended the University of Tennessee before joining the United States Marine Corps, as a weapons instructor during the Korean War.
He then joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Washington, DC, where he served for several years before returning to Colombia and launching a successful career in business.
Local business owners, family farmers
The two opened and operated the Napier Bryant gas station and later the Southern Termite and Pest Control Company, which was later renamed Pestco Systems, Inc. and continued to operate until 1999.
Both operated their businesses and performed their public duties, while tending to his family’s land where Black Angus cattle and row crops were raised.
“It’s amazing what two people can accomplish when they come together,” said Steve Napier. “They complimented each other. It’s an example of how hard work and togetherness can flourish. “
Shirley Napier passed away at the age of 87 on March 8, 2020, following her husband who died on June 24, 2019 at the age of 91.
“They set the example of service,” said Tim Napier. “It’s a community we all love and everything that is going on here.”
The small bridge along the County Road will not be the only bridge named after the two in the county.
Two parallel bridges on State Route 396, spanning Kedron Road in the town of Spring Hill, were also named in honor of the couple in a resolution that was passed unanimously by the State House and Senate and signed by Governor Bill Lee on May 11.
Prioritize the community
Prior to playing a role in state politics, JB Napier was a local leader on the Maury County governing body, the Quarterly Court (now known as the Maury County Commission) from 1970 to 1982.
He represented District 64, which included the entire county at the time. The region is now divided between District 64 owned by Representative Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, and Representative Michael Curcio, R-Dickson, District 69.
The eldest son, Tim Napier, followed in his father’s footsteps by being elected to the county commission in the 1990s.
JB Napier is remembered as a dedicated member of the community participating in the town’s Kiwanis Club and the American Legion Post 19.
Her community involvement includes seats on the advisory board of the First Farmers and Merchants Bank and the board of directors of the Maury Regional Medical Center.
He has served as Chairman of the Maury County Soil Conservation District, President of the Tennessee Association of Conservation Districts, Board Member and Board Member of the National Association of Conservation Districts, Member of the Tennessee Pest Control Licensing Board and Chairman of the Tennessee Pest Management Association.
He was celebrated for his dedication to the community as Grand Marshal of the Columbia Mule Day Parade in 2004.
JB Napier is the recipient of the George F. Hixson Fellowship Award from the Columbia Kiwanis Club and the Liberty Bell Award from the Maury County Bar Association.
As a soil curator, he gained national recognition by tending to the same land his grandfather John B. Napier purchased in 1912. The land has been cultivated since the late 1800s.
A continuous legacy
The property, which remains entirely in the family to this day, continues to be celebrated as one of Tennessee’s century-old farms by the State Department of Agriculture.
There are about a dozen Century Farms located in Maury County, and Napier Farm is one of the state’s approximately 1,800 farms.
Stan Napier continues to cultivate the land like those of generations before him.
“We are just grateful to the community and the county. It is a wonderful place to live, ”he told those present at the ceremony.
The farm that once housed the largest tobacco barn in Maury County now mainly grows soybeans, hay and corn on the land which also brought the family fortune when phosphate was discovered on the land at the fittest. of the region’s industrial boom.
At the time, nearby Mount Pleasant earned its nickname the ‘Phosphate Capital of the World’.
The city was producing over 25,000 tons per year, and the new economy increased the city’s population from about 400 in 1890 to 2,000 in 1900.
The industry continued to flourish into the new century.
In Colombia, Monsanto Corp. began processing phosphate in Maury County in 1937. At its peak, it employed over 800 people and processed 1.1 million tonnes of phosphate rock per year to produce 95,000 tonnes of phosphorus through mining at open sky.
“Farming is very important to our family here,” said Tim Napier. “I hope for years and years to come there will be a Napier name on this mailbox. This is our hope. This is what we think our legacy is going to be.
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