John Merriam Walsh – March 9, 2013
John was born on January 30, 1928, and raised at Whitehall Farm on Signal Mountain, Tennessee. He was the youngest of seven children of Chattanooga entrepreneur Edmund J. Walsh and his wife Rose Mary.
As a young Southern gentleman, John was educated at St. Stanislaus Preparatory School in Bay St. Louis, Louisiana, before joining the U.S. Marine Corps. Though he was based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, he participated in U.S. atomic bomb testing in Nevada as part of Operation Tumbler-Snapper in the early 1950s.
As he was completing his tour with the Marines, a childhood friend introduced John to the love of his life: a short, fiery, left-handed Yankee he married in 1953. The two settled in Nashville in 1955 where they began building their family of four children and founding what would become a thriving family business, Porcelain Industries, Inc.
During his years in business, John served on the boards of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce and First American Bank, and co- founded and was president of the Porcelain Enamel Institute. He was recognized by President Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s as Small Business Man of the Year for the State of Tennessee.
Along with his wife Joan, John was instrumental in the early years of St. Henry’s Catholic Church where he served as an usher for more than 20 years. John enjoyed playing golf for many years and was an active member of Richland Country Club for decades; it was during his tenure as club president that Richland was selected to host the Junior PGA Championship in the 1970s. John was a lifelong reader and crossword puzzle expert, and for most of his 20 years in retirement, he maintained an impressive vegetable garden, sharing his bountiful harvest with family and numerous friends every summer. In addition to cruising the world together, John and Joan spent recent years wintering in Bonita Springs, Florida, enjoying the Florida sun and an extended circle of family and friends.
John was preceded in death by his parents and their six other children; wife Joan Heap Walsh and daughter Jennifer Walsh. He is survived by son James Patrick Walsh (Mary), daughters Dale Walsh Graham (David) and Rosemary Walsh Plorin (Wayne), four grandchildren and one great grandson, all of Middle Tennessee.
John was surrounded by loved ones in recent weeks and forged beautiful relationships even as his health failed. The family is grateful for the loving kindness shown by longtime family friend Gwendolyn Miller, and the compassionate, professional care provided by the staff at The Meadows and Alive Hospice.
John will be attended by pall bearers Jason Graham, David Graham, Wayne Plorin, Jimmy Leinart, John Leinart, Larry Repasky and Mike Denson.
Visitation will be at Marshall Donnelly & Combs Funeral Home on Monday, March 11 from 4pm – 6pm. A funeral mass will be held at St. Henry Catholic Church on Tuesday, March 12 at 10am with burial immediately following at Harpeth Hills Memorial Gardens. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in John’s name to either The Meadows or Alive Hospice.