By John Goolsby
If you have been to Shades Valley High School for an athletic event, you have undoubtedly seen the Frank A. Nix Memorial Athletic Complex. Frank Nix passed away in December of 1996, but his legacy lives on at Shades Valley through the facilities that were named in his memory. Nix embodied the true spirit of the Mounties. In many ways, he could be called Mr. Shades Valley.
Frank Nix was a native of Kansas, Alabama. After graduating from Carbon Hill High School he attended the University of Alabama. After graduation he served in the United States Army from 1965-67 with a tour in Vietnam. In 1969 he founded Beaver Construction Company/Arlington Properties where he remained until the time of his death.
Nix even married a Shades Valley Mountie, Marjorie Kay. Together they had three children: Melody, Melissa and Chris. All three graduated from Shades Valley. Nix loved his family dearly. “Frank was a family man first. He built his life around family, not the opposite as so many others have done,” wrote former Shades Valley principal Richard Lazenby. He and Marjorie Kay spent hundreds of hours serving the Shades Valley community together as co-presidents of the Parent-Teacher-Student-Organization for well over a decade.
Frank Nix’s love for the Shades Valley family (and baseball) was great. He generously gave his time, energy and resources to Shades Valley athletics (as he did to Cahaba Heights and numerous schools and parks across the entire city of Birmingham). He worked tirelessly, even after his youngest child graduated, to help the school and students. “Frank loved all sports and he wanted Shades Valley to have the best programs and facilities. He spent many personal hours working to make sure our facilities were the best,” wrote Lazenby.
Nix knew that Shades Valley lacked the “community” that other schools enjoyed and embraced the move from Homewood to Irondale in 1996. “He wanted the best for his community,” wrote former Shades Valley teacher Martha Inman. Nix saw the move as an opportunity for Shades Valley to grow.
The cost for the new stadium in the early-90s was a million dollars. For two and a half years he worked hard as the co-chair of the athletic facilities steering committee to bring his vision of Mountie athletics to life at the Irondale campus. Former Mountie head coach Robert Higginbotham wrote of Nix, “There has never been anyone who has meant more or has done more for Shades Valley than Frank Nix.”
Nix was able to see his vision become reality as the Mounties took the field at the new stadium in the fall of 1996. The athletic complex was named in his memory on October 24, 1997.
This Friday night the Shades Valley High School administration and Head Coach Jamie Mitchell will honor Mrs. Marjorie Kay Nix and the Nix family at the game against Briarwood Christian. There is no doubt that Frank Nix would have approved of the hiring of Coach Mitchell and loved Mitchell’s philosophy of building a football team. “Every task he completed might have taken more time and effort, but he had the philosophy that if you do a good job the first go around, the less likely you have to redo the task,” wrote Higginbotham of Nix.