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Travelers along US 27 in Greenwood often comment on the architecture and beauty of a building that sits off the road, especially the design and brickwork. Robert Cohen, with RC Media Services Inc, took this photograph and contacted the McCreary County Museum to inquire about the building’s history. The history is impressive as is the family who built and ran the business there.
Dave Nevels and his wife, Dovie Ballou Nevels, built the structure and managed a service station there for many years. Dave’s daughter, Pat Nevels McCracken, said her dad built the service station in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s and served customers in a professional manner wearing a bow tie each day. The Nevels’ provided gasoline, oil changes, tires, and other automotive necessities. The Nevels Service Station was, for many years, the only business providing service on the weekends between Somerset, KY and Oneida, TN.
Dave taught school for several years, logged, and worked with the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, TN from approximately 1943-1947 prior to opening the service station. The office and motoring merchandise were on the first floor. The second floor consisted of a furnished bedroom and kitchen where the Nevels’ occasionally stayed during inclement weather. Dave and Dovie opened the service station at 6:00 am each morning so Dovie cooked breakfast for her family at the station and before the children went to school and had dinner prepared each afternoon upon their return. After the station closed for the day, the family would go to their home on Day Ridge Road.
Dave subscribed to the Louisville newspaper, the Courier Journal, and later the Lexington Herald in addition to local newspapers. The service station was the community hub for several reasons, with the newspapers being one of them. Pat McCracken shared that Ben Griffis, a resident of Greenwood, would pick up the Courier Journal each morning from the post office and bring it to her dad’s station. Ben would read the paper front to back before Dave had a chance to read it. Young people would also come to the store to get basketball and baseball scores. Visitors and local residents stayed to chat and tell tales of fishing, hunting, traveling, community events, and relive sports exploits.
Dave and Dovie had one son and three daughters. Their son, Dr. Ralph Nevels, was an educator and Superintendent of the McCreary County School District. The couple’s three daughters Doris Nevels Wilson, Pat Nevels McCracken, and Faye Nevels Sexton were also highly successful. Doris was a nurse for the McCreary County Health Department and the first HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America) instructor in the McCreary County School District. Pat retired as an educator in art and early childhood education having taught in Ohio, Indiana, and McCreary County. Faye retired as the librarian at McCreary Central High School and is currently assisting her son in his law practice in Oak Ridge, TN. Dave and Dovie valued education, and both encouraged and assisted their children in their educational pursuits. The Nevels’ were also faithful church members who were excellent role models to their children and all who knew them.
The impact Dave and Dovie Nevels had on McCreary County continues today through their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, all professional individuals and respected citizens. Theirs were lives well lived.