Cover photo for Nile Walkup Warren's Obituary
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1939 Walkup 2024

Nile Walkup Warren

October 4, 1939 — January 20, 2024



Mr. Nile "Walkup" Warren, 84, of Woodbury, Tennessee passed away on Saturday, January 20, 2024 with his wife by his side. He was born in Woodbury, Tennessee on Wednesday, October 4, 1939. Preceding him in death were his parents, Dixie and Kate (Walkup) Warren; brothers-in-law, Justin “Wayne” Prater, Jackie Prater, and W.D. Prater; and sister-in-law, Rose Holt.

He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Treva (Prater) Warren of Woodbury; brothers-in-law, David (Pam) Prater and Buford (Getta) Prater both of Woodbury; sister-in-law, Reta (Danny) Barney of Murfreesboro; several nieces and nephews; and a community that benefited and appreciated his craftsmanship.

Born and raised in Woodbury, Walkup quickly grew to appreciate the town he called home, and he gave back to it in ways almost all of the community has seen at some point. Though there was no doubt that Walkup was a momma's boy at heart, he actually got trained in his talent by his father. Dixie decided that 16 was the ripe age to begin keeping Walkup working at his side painting.

Walkup's talent and creative mind must have shined right off the bat because he made the cut to keep working. But that didn't mean he was allowed to slack off in other areas of his life. He graduated with the Class of 1957 from Woodbury Central High School. While his classmates went off to college or the workforce, Walkup had already ensured his job security and kept on painting.

The consistency, routine, and structure in his life were aspects that some may consider boring, but Walkup thrived on them. The truth is, even in all the routine, no day was the same. From painting the Rock City signs to barns to the windows at Woodson's Pharmacy, Walkup didn't have a dull moment working. Each painting, drawing, lettering, or work of art was a new challenge to bring to life. He enjoyed about 10 years of this before his life got turned up on its end.

With the Vietnam War still raging, Walkup got drafted into the United States Army. Attaining the rank of Private First Class was a milestone in that it meant he was at least halfway through his enlistment. Regardless of his urgency to return home, Walkup served his country honorably, and there is no doubt it benefited from his artistic training to have a steady hand. It was with a breath of relief that he received his discharge from service on June 30, 1969.

After his military service, Walkup returned to the life he knew grateful for each brushstroke. He dove back into painting and became well known for his artistic work as a professional sign painter and his hand-painted lettering. In fact, Walkup became so well known that he would get called back seasonally to do jobs like Bank of Commerce event signs, all of the auction and real estate signs, Red Apple Day signs, and the holiday window paintings for Woodson's Pharmacy, to name a few. On top of those, there were always odd jobs here and there, and they kept him busy for 60+ years.

His mind was something to marvel at in many ways, especially when it came to his work. Two talents that come to mind were: 1) he could paint the windows from the inside and make the picture on the outside perfect for the viewer, and 2) he could look at a picture, make a quick drawing, and then create a replica of the original. When God gave Walkup talents, Walkup made sure to use them all, and he used what he had, when he could, where he was.

Since Walkup had a choice of where he was, he never did see the point in straying too far from home. Now, if Treva insisted, he would make the trek to Gatlinburg with her, but otherwise, the furthest he was willing to go on a regular basis was Nashville. And if Walkup was going to Nashville, you knew it was because of the Nashville Flea Market. 

His love for antiques was second to his painting. Antique cars took most of his fancy, and you will find them featured in several of his paintings. Sometimes, Walkup would even take the initiative to set antique vehicles apart from the others by giving them their very own Walkup-original paint job. There must have been something about gears that piqued his interest because he also enjoyed clocks.

Collecting clocks and pocket watches was a hobby that kept on giving. Not only were they a symbol of his love of consistency, structure, and routine, but they also provided many thrills. Finding them was the first thrill and then getting them home had many more. He enjoyed taking them apart and putting them back together and had an understanding of the internal mechanisms that made them tick, but he didn't limit himself to objects.

In fact, Walkup specialized in knowing what made 2 people tick. First off, he knew what made him tick. Most people search most of their lives trying to find their place and purpose, but Walkup knew from the age of 16 when a paintbrush got in his hand. Secondly, he knew what made Treva tick. It was a guarantee that he was going to talk to Treva and fuss at her every day to keep things interesting. He had perfected knowing the exact thing to say to get her riled up and then calmed back down, and as any good husband, he used his knowledge unsparingly. 

His devotion to aiming for perfection and eye for detail in his activities endeared Walkup to many people, but a creative mind wasn’t everything Walkup was. There were some dichotomies to his personality and his habits. For instance, he was reserved but also a storyteller. He wore gloves but also didn’t mind getting paint on his hands. He was a recluse but also played a role in several community events. The complexities of Walkup’s personality made him an intriguing person wherever he went. 

As a long-time member of the Church of Christ and Cannon County, Walkup caught the attention of many people during his 84 years on this earth, but he remained consistent, routine, and structured. So if you saw Walkup out and about, you could be certain of a few things. He was going to have his flat cap. He was going to wear his gloves. And he was going to have a purpose for going there. 

Visitation will be held at Gentry-Smith Funeral Home on Monday, January 22, 2024 from 4-8 pm. Funeral services will be Tuesday, January 23, 2024 at 2 pm in the Gentry-Smith Funeral Home chapel. Bro. Al Bugg, Jr. will officiate. Interment will be in Riverside Cemetery. 

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to a charity of your choice.

Share memories and condolences at Gentry-Smith Funeral Home, 303 Murfreesboro Rd. Woodbury, TN 37190, 615-563-5337 Because every life has a story

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Nile Walkup Warren, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Monday, January 22, 2024

4:00 - 8:00 pm (Central time)

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Funeral Service

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

2:00 - 3:00 pm (Central time)

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