Halil Eugene "Gene" Nabi

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Age 87, of Nashville passed away April 28, 2019.

He was born in Jacksonville, FL on July 16, 1931 to the immigrant Turkish parents of Halil and Ada Nabi. Gene served in the Army and was proud of his service to this country. He graduated from Florida State University and married Joy Ellison Nabi on August 10, 1957. Together, they had 5 children

While Gene had a variety of different jobs, his greatest career joy was his tenure at the Baptist Sunday School Board where he worked in the Special Ministries Department as a consultant, author, and coach to churches who wanted to develop programming for individuals with disabilities. Gene and Joy started the Baptist Homes for Exceptional Persons which ultimately purchased three group homes for adult individuals with disabilities to live in a normal home setting. Those homes were donated to Tennessee Baptist Adult Homes who still manage them and where their adult son, Scott Nabi, resides and calls home.

Gene was known for many things. Among them were his love for English grammar, creative salads, and books on virtually every topic, robust laughter, photography, corny jokes, unwavering FSU Seminole pride and much more. More than any other thing, he was deeply committed to his wife Joy who he walked in life with for 62 years and his love for Jesus who was his Savior and Lord.

Preceded in death by his parents and son, David Halil Nabi. Survived by his loving wife Joy Nabi; children, Cheryl (Jeff) Dillingham, Scott Nabi, Ken (Karen) Nabi, Steve (Vera) Nabi; grandchildren, Rachel Dillingham Davis, (Jonathan), Emily Dillingham Vanderhei, (Eric), Sarah Dillingham Baker, (Tim), Tyler Nabi, Hannah Nabi Evans, (Justin), Jordan Nabi, Josiah Nabi, Aidan Nabi, Ellison Nabi, Bennett Nabi; great grandchildren, Katie Beth Davis, Wyatt Davis, Zoe Dillingham, Abby Baker, Emma Baker, Skyler Evans, Piper Evans; and sister, Susie Peake; many extended family members and friends.

Life Celebration 11:30 a.m., Thursday at The Church at Harpeth Heights. Visitation 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. at church.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations be made to: Stoneway Acres Endowment Fund, to support the Nabi House, White House, and Brooks House Homes of Tennessee Baptist Adult Homes. Checks may be made payable to TBAH-Stoneway Acres Endowment Fund, PO Box 682789, Franklin, TN, 37068

9 Comments to Halil Eugene "Gene" Nabi

  1. John/Patricia Ard
    April 30, 2019 9:12 pm

    Blessings and strength to you all during this time in your lives remembering this much loved man. Our hearts weep with you but yet there is joy too in knowing he is with Jesus. Tom and Patty Ard

  2. Star
    May 1, 2019 8:17 am

    My sweet UNCLE GENE will be missed by all. To the family please know it was a pleasure to fulfill one of his wishes late in his life.

  3. Laura Floersh Moore
    May 1, 2019 12:02 pm

    To a wonderful family whom lve known for many years. Im sorry for your loss, but feel blessed to have known you.

  4. Joyce Miller
    May 1, 2019 2:09 pm

    O my goodness Gene Nabi, such fun we had at Rochelle Center. So sorry you are not of this earth any longer you will be missed but are in a better place. I know you were a faithful survant to our Lord.

  5. Mona Baswell
    May 1, 2019 4:23 pm

    Gene Nabi’s warm, friendly smile was one of the first ones that greeted my family when we first started visiting Harpeth Heights 24 years ago. I always enjoyed hearing his stories about his travels and mission work. He will be missed.

  6. David O’Brien
    May 1, 2019 7:39 pm

    I had the privilege of meeting Gene during my mid-1980s summers working at Glorieta, then working with him at the Sunday School Board in Nashville when I began working there in 1987. He was an incredibly kind, genuine, & caring man who had a wonderful heart for those with disabilities. I know he will be missed. Blessings to all of the Nabi family during this difficult time.

    David O’Brien

  7. Jackie Stevens
    May 1, 2019 9:30 pm

    Gene was my mentor on my first special needs mission trip. Such an amazing wealth of information but also such a heart for special needs families. I will always be thankful for his kinds words of support and for the wisdom he shared from his years as a special needs professional and as a special needs parent. I learned so much from him. Parents listened to him because he was walking the path they were walking. He shared his story of starting a school for his son Scott because the local public school said they didn’t take kids like Scott when it was time for him to start kindergarten. I remember the father who asked us what to do when his 13-year-old daughter with Down Syndrome was mocked on public transportation by other riders. I at first thought he meant other children and started to respond, but I had no words when he said it was the adults on the buses and subways who made fun of his sweet Christina. Gene suggested introducing Christina to the person and starting a conversation that included her. The dad asked what to do if the mocking didn’t stop. Gene stood tall and stated with such authority that Christina was created by God and brought glory to Him and was worthy of love and care. “You are her protector. You stand up for her and tell them you will not let them treat her that way.” Her dad and the other parents in the group seemed to sit up taller and be less timid in their questions after that. Someone had stated adamantly that their children had value and were worthy of respect. I know Gene’s reward is great because his life was one of great service to those often considered the least of these.

  8. Sheila (Beazley) Bush Driller
    May 1, 2019 10:23 pm

    What a beatiful pictorial tribute to the man I call my “first boss,” this man he told me to call “Nabi,” and whom I revered and loved for decades of my life. He was my other dad, my friend, my mentor, the greatest gift of humor, a ROCK to me and so many. He looked into my eyes every time we met, as if he were looking into my soul, and he knew if I was happy or sad, at peace or not, and then he had me doodle. Immediately he would take my doodles and interpret them in his own unique way. This man had the heart of none other and he led his life in simplicity yet with greatness. He met grief around corners he didn’t expect, and I met him there and shared a book or two, where he placed them into his own private “library of congress.” I met and came to know each member of his family, including David whose life was taken too early when he and I were both at TTU in the late-70’s. Because I lived in Cookeville, we would sometimes meet when they visited David’s resting place “Camp David” near Fall Creek Falls. Nabi’s son Scott was my Easter Seal camper in the 70’s and later in life, my client at an adult workshop where I worked in the 80’s. At every turn, Scott would make me “sock him on the arm” as a teasing way to say he liked me. Nabi would roar with laughter every time. Nabi and Joy were precious and welcoming to me each decade of my life and allowed me to share in their laughter and in their tears. They called on me as a fellow Prayer Warrior in times of medical need, in celebration, or simply in gratitude. They rejoiced in my own happiness and shared my grief as well. No matter how long it was in between visits, we picked up where we left off. Knowing Jesus was our greatest bond and believing we will see each other again is my greatest hope and joy. I love you, Nabi, and all your precious Nabi’s with whom you leave a great legacy. I’ll see you again someday…

  9. Woody and Melinda Parker
    May 2, 2019 12:15 am

    Joy and family,
    Ellen Beene contacted me about Gene. Melinda and I are out of town, but please know our hearts and prayers are with you. Gene was a wonderful human being–so kind to us. Our few years together at LifeWay (BSSB) were very enriching. Gene’s legacy in our minds is “Mr. Special Education of the Southern Baptist Convention.” He made an enourmous difference in the lives of teachers, parents, co-workers and, most of all, countless folks with special needs. You have a large and wonderful family. May God bless all of you.
    Woody and Melinda Parker

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