J. L. Nanney
By Don Bailey
Author’s note: Nanney was at Cliffside High for only a few short years. He was perhaps the most successful faculty member Cliffside High ever had.
James Lewis Nanney was born in Forest City on November 27, 1926, a son of J. Roy and Mary P. (Justice) Nanney. He graduated from Cool Springs High School in 1944 and went directly into the navy, where he served with the Pacific Fleet until the end of the war.
By his own account he began his college career somewhat by accident. It seems that he had been discharged from the navy in 1946 and was sitting on the front porch of his parents’ home when a friend stopped as he was driving by. When asked where he was going the friend replied that he was going to Boiling Springs to enroll in Gardner Webb Junior College, so J. Lewis decided he’d go along.
Now between 1946 when he entered Gardner Webb and 1948, when he graduated, Nanney found some time for extracurricular activities. In 1947 he married Juanita Cole who was also a Forest City native.
J. Lewis entered Wake Forest College in 1948 and graduated in 1950 with a BS degree in Mathematics. Following his graduation, he taught at Mill Spring, NC until 1954. In the fall of ’54 he came to Cliffside High where he taught mathematics and coached baseball and basketball. In 1958 Nanney applied for a national grant to attend a Summer Institute of Science and Mathematics at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. He was awarded the grant, and he certainly made the most of that opportunity.
Indeed, following the Summer Institute Nanney decided he wanted to pursue a master’s degree. Fortunately, the Cliffside High principal was sympathetic to that desire and in the fall of 1958 A. P. Weathers was scheduled to assume “a considerable amount of the coaching duties once held by” J. Lewis, so that he might. put more of his time into mathematics.
J. Lewis Nanney received his Master’s Degree from the University of North Carolina in June of 1960, and in August of that year he moved to Miami, Florida. In Florida he taught first at Miami High, and later at Coral Gables, where he was for a time the Assistant Principal. His final move was to Miami Day Jr. High, and from there, in 1981, he retired following a heart attack. However, that tells only a part of the story. In Florida J. Lewis began writing mathematics textbooks. These texts numbered several dozen and they were very successful. A few of his titles are: Preparation for Algebra, Beginning Algebra, Elementary Algebra, College Algebra and Algebra and Trigonometry.
James Lewis Nanney died at his home in Miami Lakes, Florida in 1995.
This profile was taken from Don Bailey’s book Cliffside High School.