Mrs. Chris Ann Clayton Nehrling
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Chris (Clayton) Nehrling
Christopher Ann Clayton Nehrling passed away on October 16, 2019 at home surrounded by family and friends after a courageous 10+ year battle with Alzheimer's at the age of 69. Chris was a sweet, tender-hearted, kind, gentle, patient, loyal and fun-loving mother, grandmother, wife, sister, aunt, and friend. She had a quick wit and a fabulous, but sometimes wicked, sense of humor. She was extremely smart and had a huge vocabulary that made her virtually unbeatable at Scrabble. She enjoyed capturing moments in pictures and home movies and became the family's best photographer and videographer. She loved animals. All of our dogs and cats were animals that at one time had been abandoned and Chris picked them up and brought them home.
Chris was born on August 19, 1950 in Lenoir City, Tennessee to Manuel H. Clayton and Imogene Benton. She was raised on a small family farm in Lenoir City before moving to Cleveland, Tennessee. Chris graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1968. She attended Tennessee Tech University where she earned a BS in Wildlife Management in June 1972 and a MS in Biology in June 1974.
After graduation from college, Chris accepted a job into a GS-4 Biological Aid position in the US Fish and Wildlife Service's Raleigh, North Carolina, River Basin Studies Office in July 1974. After a few months working in the Raleigh Office, Chris was promoted and transferred into a GS-5 Fisheries Biologist position at the Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery in Suches, Georgia. At this point in time, Chris was the first women to be assigned into a Fishery Biologist position on any of the US Fish and Wildlife Service's National Fish Hatcheries.
After more than a year of tough and demanding physical and biological work, Chris was informed that she had successfully completed all assigned position duties and tasks during her probationary period. She was promoted to a GS-7 Fishery Biologist. Chris was the first woman to successfully compete for a permanent Fisheries Biologist position on any of the US Fish and Wildlife Service's National Fish Hatcheries, trailblazing the way for more women to enter this field. Her proven success clearly demonstrated that women were able to meet the demands required to earn and advance into permanent Fisheries Biologist positions on any of the US Fish and Wildlife Service's National Fish Hatcheries.
Later, Chris resigned from the Service so that she could follow her passion - teaching. She taught Biology, Microbiology, and Environmental Education at Cleveland State Community College, Cleveland, Tennessee and was a long-time substitute teacher in the Rockdale County School System, Georgia. She also worked as a respiratory therapist at hospitals in Tennessee and West Virginia.
Chris was an accomplished musician who taught her daughters and others how to play the piano. She loved to dance to rock and roll music and enjoyed clogging whenever "Rocky Top" or any blue grass music was playing.
She was an extremely gifted and creative artisan who excelled as a tole painter and stenciler. She sold her creations under "Crafts by Mountain Mama" at nationally renowned Craft Festivals such as the Mountain Heritage Arts and Crafts Festival in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia as well as in shops in Occoquan and Manassas, Virginia and Stone Mountain, Georgia. She was an exceptional seamstress and enjoyed making clothes for our kids and herself as well as making some of the most interesting and outlandish Halloween costumes.
Left to carry on her legacy is her husband of 38 years Rick Nehrling; her beloved daughters, Dr. Adrianne Edwards (Brian) and Erica Nehrling; and her beautiful grandchildren Jensen, Barrett and Aveline Edwards. She is also survived by her long-time friend Donna Noe, Whitesburg, Tn; her brother Ben Benton (Lisa) of Chattanooga, Tn; her nephew Benjy Benton of Chattanooga, Tn; her niece Kimberly Johnson-Welch (Johnny) of Knoxville, Tn; as well as great nephews and nieces and numerous cousins. She was preceded in death by her mother Imogene Hughett Benton; her sister Mary Kay Johnson and her father Manuel H. Clayton.
Chris will be cremated and buried at the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton, Georgia.
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