Remembering Nannie Lee Fulmer

Legendary University of Tennessee Football Coach Phillip Fulmer’s Mother, Nannie Lee Fulmer, passed away on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2016, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Coach and his family have been  tremendous Champions for Alzheimer’s Tennessee.  Please remember the Fulmer family in your thoughts and prayers.

Fulmer Mother B&W

Nannie Lee Fulmer, age 91 of Winchester, was a native of Franklin County. She was born on July 26, 1925 to the late Thomas W. and Lee Hela Hice. Nannie Lee was the matriarch of the Fulmer Family. She was a happy, fun-loving mother, grandmother, and aunt.

“Mema” was also the inspiration for the entire Fulmer family to become Alzheimer’s Tennessee Champions, especially for the annual Spring Knoxville Alzheimer’s Tennessee Walk.

During a Kickoff Lunch for the 2015 event, Coach shared about visiting his mother during the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

“She started zipping all over the house looking, in a panic, and I said, ‘Mom, what’s wrong? What can I do for you?’ and she said I’m looking for my phone, and I said, ‘It’s right here, it’s plugged in, it’s charged, can I call someone for you?’ She said, ‘No, I need to call 911 — you’re not supposed to be here.’ She had no idea who I was.”

Coach Fulmer shared that she recognized the pictures hanging in her home of his children when they were babies. And she proceeded to show Coach a dated picture of himself, and was proud to tell him about her son, Phillip.

You may view Coach Fulmer’s complete story from February 2015:

Coach’s daughters, who have served as Chairpersons for the event, have also shared about their “Mema”. They would smile about her biscuits and gravy, how she played with their hair, and the way she laughed.

Fulmer Mother & 3 Granddaughters

Memories of Mema: Nannie Lee Fulmer hugging Coach Fulmer’s three daughters Allison, Brittany, and Courtney years ago.

But those were memories of what their grandmother was like before Alzheimer’s disease.

“Slowly, but surely, we’re having to say good-bye every time we see ‘Mema’”, Allison Fulmer Mahan, Coach Fulmer’s youngest daughter, shared a few years ago.

At one point, the Fulmer family enjoyed a rare glimpse of the past – and their Mema’s love – when someone discovered a birthday card Coach’s mother had written but never sent.

“My Dad got to experience the ‘I love you’s’ and ‘I’m proud of you’s’ that he may never hear again,” Courtney Fulmer Peace shared at that time. “To lose someone before they’re really gone is especially hard and heartbreaking, and that’s why we walk every Spring.”

In addition to her parents, Nannie Lee is preceded in death by her husband, James Edward Fulmer; son, Glenn William Fulmer; and 8 siblings.  She is survived by her children, Kathy and Phillip; sister, Shirley; eight grandchildren; and sixteen great-grandchildren. You may read the complete obituary here.

The family has requested that memorials be sent to Alzheimer’s Tennessee, 5801 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919, (865)-544-6288,


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