OBITUARY: John Alfred Churchwell


John Alfred Churchwell, 100, former owner and operator of Churchwell Sign and Arts Company, died Wednesday, February 22, 2023 at his residence in Columbia.

Born October 26, 1922, in Lewis County, he was the son of the late Newton Daniel Churchwell and the late Viola Ann Caroll Churchwell.

On January 15, 1946, he married Sarah Ethelyne Long Churchwell who preceded him in death on September 6, 2015. Mr. Churchwell was always singing “You are my Sunshine” to his wife.

From 1941-1947 he served in the United States Navy during World War II. In 1942, he was on the aircraft carrier “Hornet CV8” Doolittle Raiders when it was bombed. Mr. Churchwell was one of two survivors in his unit of sixty sailors on the aircraft carrier.

For twenty plus years, he worked for Columbia Neon as a commercial artist. Over the years, he designed many signs for businesses in several counties, Coo Coo and Sterling Marlin, races cars, eagles on the banks with the original gold leaf, Polk Memorial Gardens, Pinecrest Gardens and many church signs. Mr. Churchwell’s work was well-known for its lasting quality. He was a longtime member of East Side Church of Christ/Southgate Church of Christ.

Survivors include his daughter, Phillis Churchwell of Columbia; son, John W. (Jeraldean) Churchwell of Columbia; grandchildren, Kim (James) Dickinson, Tina (Willie) Baxter, Amy (Jeremy) Alsup; special grandchild, Sara Emily Peach (Jeremy) Kelley and their children, Rayna and Lynllie, PawPaw’s little crickets; great-grandchildren, Karlie Dickinson (Luke Warf), Maverick Dickinson, Kaitlyn Dickinson (fiancé, Jo Jo Mendes), Logan Baxter, Ashton Elliott; great-great-grandchildren, Colt Warf, McKoy Warf, Tila Warf; and several nieces and nephews.

Funeral services were conducted Friday at 2:00 P.M. at Oakes & Nichols Funeral Home with Joe Macer and Randy Baxter officiating. Burial will follow in Polk Memorial Gardens with military honors provided by Herbert Griffin American Legion Post 19. The family will visit with friends Friday from 12:00 P.M. until service time at the funeral home.

Active pallbearers will be Logan Baxter, Maverick Dickinson, James Dickinson, Willie Baxter, Jeremy Alsup, Neil Brady, and Tim Sikes. Honorary pallbearers include Charles Stofel, Eddie Talley, Dr. Robert Bain, and Eric Sikes.

The family suggests memorials to Columbia Academy, 1101 West Seventh Street, Columbia, TN 38401.

Condolences may be extended online at


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