Funeral services for Andrew W. Nix, Jr., the founder of Nix Funeral Home Inc. and distinguished World War II veteran were held on Thursday, June 30, 2011 at Jones Memorial Baptist Church, 20th and Dauphin Streets. Mr. Nix died on June 16, 2011. He was 88.
Andrew Nix, Jr. was born in 1923 in Chicago, Illinois to the late Rev. Andrew W. Nix, Sr. and Ida Burcher Nix, a Bermudian by birth. The family moved to Maywood, IL, Cleveland, OH, Pittsburgh, PA and Asbury Park, NJ, before finally settling in the Holmesburg section of Philadelphia, PA, where Nix Sr. became pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church which he led until his death in 1949.
Nix’s devoted and loving parents were powerful influences in his life. They taught him the value of good moral character and the virtues of a spiritual life. As a result, Nix became an active church leader. He served in several positions at Mt. Zion, Baptist Church, including Sunday school teacher, superintendent of the Sunday school, usher, senior choir member and church trustee. Later, when he moved to North Philadelphia, Andrew Nix, Jr. became a member of Jones Memorial Baptist Church located at 20th and Dauphin Streets.
In his 53 years with the church, he has served as an usher, trustee, and treasurer for 25 years, vice chairman and chairman of the trustee board.
Andrew Nix Jr.’s parents also challenged him to dream and encouraged him to make those dreams come true. They emphasized the importance of going into business for himself. Nix recalls fondly:
“My parents told me to manifest my spiritual faith by realising my potential and outperforming those who doubted my abilities. In our household, racial discrimination wasn’t an excuse for not achieving. I was forbidden to utter the words, “I can’t.”
A defining experience of Nix’s youth occurred soon after his graduation from Philadelphia’s Germantown High School in 1941. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor signaled the United States’ entrance into World War II. Throughout the country, young men answered the patriotic call to preserve freedom and democracy, including Andrew W. Nix, Jr. It was not to be; however, for when Nix applied to join the United States Marine Corps in 1943, he was denied because of the color of his skin.
Despite this profound lack of respect for him as an American citizen, Nix was willing to fight for his country. Determined to prove his loyalty, he volunteered for the United States Army, hoping to be assigned to a combat outfit.
Awarded Combat Infantry Badge, the Bronze Star Medal, the European African Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon with four bronze battle campaign stars, and a bronze arrowhead for an LCI landing on Omaha Beach, Normandy on (D-Plus II), and several other distinguished medals, Andrew Nix is most proud of the “finishing touches” his service provided: “Self-reliance, Personal discipline and attainment.”
Following an Honorable Discharge in December 1945, Andrew Nix returned to Philadelphia and attended Eckels Mortuary College. He then served a two-year apprenticeship at the Hunt Funeral Home in Chester, PA. “Saving a little, borrowing a lot, and riding on the encouragement of friends,” stated Nix; in October 1954 he opened a storefront funeral home at 1621 West Dauphin Street in Philadelphia. Yesterday’s Storefront is now a state-of-the-art facility in a five-building complex. In 2004i Mr. Nix moved on to purchase White Chapel Memorial Park in Feasterville, Pennsylvania.
The early years were quite challenging. Yet, Nix succeeded with the support of family members, friends and his faith in God. The Andrew W. Nix, Jr. Funeral Home has been a leader in quality preservation, outstanding service and economy. The funeral home has overseen funerals large and small, lavish and modest for generations of Philadelphians and Suburbains, including the difficult task of overseeing the preservation and burial preparations for the Jonestown, Guyana tragedy. “Lasting success,” according to Nix, “comes through changing with the times. You have to keep up with the time and day…the only thing that’s constant is change.”
Respected for his devotion to excellence, professionalism, technical expertise and efficiency, accolades and opportunities are no strangers to Andrew Nix. In 1978, the Dover Air Force Base presented Nix with a United States Government Citation, recognizing his most challenging assignment, overseeing the preservation and burial preparation of the 913 victims of the Jonestown, Guyana tragedy. It was an assignment the required seven consecutive 12-18 hour days.
He joined The National Funeral Directors & Morticians Association in 1964. During my early years of membership, He aligned himself with the young aggressive, eager and smart morticians. “Our desire was to learn protocol and parliamentary procedure. We felt that we needed a strong clear Democracy in our association. (The under 40 group was formed in the 1960’s).
Mr. Nix served as trustee for many years at Mount Zion Baptist Church, Holmesberg, and treasure of Jones Memorial Baptist Church for 25 years. He was also the treasure of the Tucker House Nursing Home which JMB Church established. Those positions adequately prepared him to develop a financial plan to enhance our organization and take it to another level. He took office as treasure in August 1990 in Miami, Florida. During his tenure as treasurer, the organization had grown from $40K in the treasury and $80K in debt to over $600K in cash assets with zero debt. The budget had grown from $100K to $300K.
Andrew W. Nix is survived by his wife, children and grandchildren; sisters, brother, nieces and nephews; and a host of other relatives, loved ones and friends.