Bennie Jones Cannon Nolen, 91, of Fayette, Alabama, died peacefully on January 8, 2021.
Bennie was born January 29, 1929 to loving parents Theron Cannon and Mary Jones Cannon, of Berry,
Alabama. Her beloved sister Laura Mae Pulliam, Melbourne Cannon, and Rosemary Cannon were her
siblings. Bennie’s parents and siblings predeceased her.
Growing up in Berry, Bennie had fond memories of her father's general mercantile store, Theron Cannon
and Company. She lived in the middle of Berry, with the pleasant sound of trains whistling by.
Bennie's primary education was in Berry. She graduated from Ward-Belmont School for Women,
Nashville, Tennessee, in 1947. Afterwards, she attended the University of Alabama, where she
graduated in 1951. Bennie was a member of Alpha Gamma Delta International Fraternity.
While at the University, she met a fellow undergraduate student, Jack Merrell Nolen, from Ashland,
Alabama. They married in 1949.
During their first years of marriage, they lived in Berry. Jack established his law practice and worked at
Theron Cannon and Company. Bennie started their family. Due to pregnancy complications, Bennie was
heartbroken to lose a twin son and daughter and another baby.
In 1960, they moved to Fayette. Jack and Bennie had six children, so her life was filled with numerous
school and church activities. Bennie was a genteel "Southern lady,” with impeccable manners, stylish
dress, and graciousness. She is remembered for her sewing skills and her detailed needlework, namely
counted cross-stitch. Bennie was selected as Fayette County Mother of the Year in 1987.
She loved her God, her United Methodist Church, and her large family. She professed that being a
Christian was most important in a person's life. The Fayette First United Methodist Church was the
center of her faith-filled activities. She was a committed member - welcoming visitors, attending Sunday
School, assuming any leadership position where needed, witnessing to family and friends. While United
Methodist Women president, she was instrumental in the effort to create needlepoint prayer cushions
for the communion rail in the sanctuary. These works of art continue to enhance the beauty of worship
and Bennie was proud of this local church legacy.
Bennie was active in her community with leadership roles in Fayette Music Study Club and The Progress
Club. In the 1960s, Bennie helped organize The Supper Club, a group of couples that gather monthly for
dinner. The Supper Club continues today and these couples have been among her closest and dearest
Over the years, Bennie cheered on the Crimson Tide by attending Alabama football games, home and
away. Bowl games were especially memorable to Bennie and family. Bennie enjoyed traveling, within
the United States and abroad. Florence, Italy was a favorite place. A Christmas Danube River cruise was
special too. During a memorable trip to the Holy Land, Bennie was baptized in the Jordan River, an act of
great significance to her. She especially looked forward to biannual family trips which she and Jack
established as a tradition in the 1990s.
Throughout her 49-year marriage, Bennie was the consummate spouse, mother, and friend. She
supported Jack in all of his church, professional, business, and political activities. She attended most
school, church, and athletic events in which her six children (and later her grandchildren) were involved.
Many of her children's friends have commented on how Bennie and Jack made them feel a part of the
Nolen family while visiting in their home - a point of great pride to them.
Jack predeceased Bennie in 1998. Family survivors include six children: Theron W. Nolen, Fayette; M.
Kathleen Nolen-Martin (Frederick), Norfolk, Virginia; Janet N. Randolph (Jody), Fayette; J. Merrell Nolen,
Jr. (Sandy), Fayette; Pam N. Shipman (Wade), Tallassee, Alabama; Laura N. Fulmer (Stephen), Fayette.
Bennie’s 14 grandchildren are Eric Martin, Taylor Martin (Lana), Molly Martin, Kristen Smalley (Adam),
Ben Randolph, Jack Nolen (LeeAnn), Luke Nolen, Julia Nolen, Cannon Shipman, Nolen Shipman, Theron
Shipman, Sally Shipman, Gene Fulmer (Evan Ashley) and Jacob Fulmer. Her great grandchild is Avery
Nolen. Bennie was richly blessed with numerous in-laws, nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends all of
whom she loved dearly.
Mae Rose Prewitt and the late Flozella Henry are loved and deeply appreciated for their devoted care of
Bennie for many years. She would not have been able to remain in her family home without them. The
family is grateful to Dr. Martha Jo Christian and Marie Boglin.
In lieu of flowers, the children suggest memorials be made to: Fayette First United Methodist Church
Endowment, 412 Temple Avenue N, Fayette, Alabama 35555 or Jack Merrell Nolen and Bennie Jones
Cannon Nolen Scholarship, University of Alabama Alumni Association, Post Office 861928, Tuscaloosa,
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, burial will be private. A celebration of life will be held at a later date.
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