Lt. Cdr. Nolan Sowell

Lieutenant Commander Nolan C. Sowell, US Coast Guard, Retired, 87, of Fernandina Beach, FL, passed away on Saturday, August 17, 2019.

He was born to Millard F. Sowell and Gussie Exum Sowell on October 18, 1931 in Wausau, FL. He began his United States Coast Guard career in 1948 by enlisting as an Apprentice Seaman and received basic training in Mayport, FL. Nolan rose to the rank of Lieutenant Commander, an accomplishment he was extremely proud of.

He married Elizabeth Foster in 1959 and they settled in Edison, NJ. In 1971, following military retirement at the end of 23 years active duty in the Coast Guard, Nola began a second career as Regional Engineer for Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. He had four children with Elizabeth; Tom, Steve, Lisa and Kathy. In 1983, he lost Elizabeth to cancer.

In 1989, Nolan met and married Nellie Dublin Babb. Following his 20-year employment at Rutgers and two brief periods of residence in Greenwood and Destin, FL, he and Nellie settled in Amelia Island, FL.

In addition to his parents and Elizabeth, Nolan was preceded in death by his children, Tom and Lisa; his brothers, Tillman Sowell and William “Walton” Sowell and his sisters, Mildred Langley, Lillian McDaniel, Helen Norris, Dorothy Sowell and Evelyn Sowell.

He leaves behind his wife, Nell, of Amelia Island; a daughter, Kathy Erickson (Albert) and a son, Steve Sowell, both of Yulee, FL; two stepdaughters, Joe Franks (Bill) of Greenwood and Laura Merchant (Ted) of Ninety Six; three grandchildren; two great grandchildren; a sister-in-law, Edie Foster and her two children (godchildren of Nolan), Tanya and Scott Foster of New Jersey.

A memorial service, with military rites, will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Harley Funeral Home Chapel, with the Rev. Paul Crutcher and Matthew Dorn, great nephew, officiating.

The family will receive friends immediately following the service.

Arrangements are being handled by Harley Funeral Home and Crematory ( and Oxley-Heard Funeral Directors of Fernandina Beach.