Ernest Nunnally Sr., 84, veteran


Ernest Weldon Nunnally Sr., a longtime East Baltimore resident who built a career at Bethlehem Steel Corp., died of a heart attack Wednesday at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was 84.

Born on a farm in Fort Mitchell, Va., he was the middle of five children. When he was a child, the family moved to Baltimore. He attended public schools in Virginia and Baltimore.

Mr. Nunnally was working at Bethlehem Steel's Sparrows Point steel mill when he was drafted into the Army in 1942.

Before he left for military duty, he married his childhood sweetheart, Ethel May Anderson, who lived down the street from his family. She died in 1994.

A technician 5th grade who repaired vehicles and served as a driver for officers, he served in the Pacific. He received a Good Conduct Medal. He was honorably discharged in 1946.

Mr. Nunnally often recounted to his family his most terrifying Army experience: The ship he was on was torpedoed while he slept. He and other men spent several days clinging to a makeshift raft in the Pacific Ocean before they were spotted and rescued by another ship.

He returned to Baltimore and to Bethlehem Steel, where he pursued training in electricity and refrigeration. Mr. Nunnally worked his way up to positions of increasing responsibility. When he retired in May 1983, after working there 37 years, he was operating computers that scheduled the movement of raw materials used to make steel.

"He would get math books and teach himself," said a daughter, Mildred Wade of Baltimore. "He was very proud of that job because he had to teach himself" the material to compete successfully for it.

Mr. Nunnally also drove cabs for many years to supplement his income.

He was a member of Ebenezer Baptist Church in East Baltimore, where he sang in the choir, and more recently, of Greater Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church in East Baltimore.

Mr. Nunnally was an avid bowler and competed in senior leagues. He enjoyed watching sporting events and game shows on television.

"He was a top-notch checker player. You couldn't beat him if you tried," his daughter said.

In retirement, he traveled with his children and their families and enjoyed going to Atlantic City, N.J., and to amusement parks.

A funeral service is scheduled for 11 a.m. today at Greater Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church, 2525 E. Preston St., Baltimore.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include two other daughters, Vernice Barnard and Kim Williams, both of Baltimore; two sons, Daniel Nunnally Sr. and Ernest Nunnally Jr., both of Baltimore; a brother, Warren Nunnally of Baltimore; a sister, Marion Mitchell of Chase City, Va.; five grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

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