Nita Ruth Powers Byrum

Published 6:39 pm Tuesday, October 20, 2020

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Nita Ruth Powers Byrum, age 93, a resident of Washington, died Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, at her home. A Celebration of Life Service will be held at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church at a future date.

Nita was born June 24, 1927, to Howard Douglas Powers and Nettie St. John Powers on her grandfather St. John’s farm in Montgomery County Tennessee. She grew up in Hopkinsville and West Point, Kentucky. In 1951, she graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor’s in Radio Arts from the School of Arts and Sciences. At UK, she became a rabid Wild Cat fan when Bear Bryant won the Sugar Bowl in 1950 and Adolph Rupp won the NCAA basketball championship three out of her 4 years. She was President of Delta Zeta Sorority, Vice-President of SUKY (student government) and honored as a Kentucky Colonel. In 1952, with a great desire to see Europe, Nita took a civilian posting as the Director of the Special Services Club for the U.S. Department of Army in Bad Kreuznach, Germany. It is there that she met the great love of her life, 1st Lieutenant Robert Warren Byrum, from Edenton, North Carolina. They were married in 1957, and she began her career as a supportive DuPont wife and mother of two children born in Kinston.

In Wilmington, Delaware, she served as Chairman of Wilmington Garden Day and on the board of directors for St. Michael’s Nursery, which became one of the first Head Start programs. She continued many civic and church activities in Charlotte, but her favorite was serving as President of the Kentucky Alumni Association. She loved to throw a Derby Party, serving mint juleps and bite-size country ham biscuits. Always a gracious hostess, she enjoyed sharing her home and yard on Wendover Road.

Nita’s love of hospitality continued with her move to Washington, where she and Bob restored a grand historic home. As a member of the O’ Henry Book Club, she looked forward to hosting the book club lunch and Christmas Tea. She was a member of the Washington Garden Club, the Ramblers Supper Club and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church Women. She was an early board member of the Turnage Theatre on its restoration and opening. She will always be remembered for her beautiful smile. The only contentious times were during Kentucky basketball season with her Carolina family.

Nita was proceeded in death by her parents; brother, Howard “Ray” Powers; nephew, David Arnold Powers; and four days ago, her devoted husband, Robert Warren Byrum.

She is survived by her son, Robert Warren “Skip” Byrum, of New Bern; daughter, Robin St. John Byrum Skillen and husband Jim, of Washington; cherished granddaughter, Desi Adele Byrum, and grandson, James McPherson “Mac” Skillen Jr.; nephew, Mark Allen Powers and wife Sally, of Valley Station, Kentucky; and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and -nephews and great-great-nieces and -nephews.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations may be made directly to the All Souls Fund at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, PO Box 985, Washington, NC 27889.

The family would especially like to thank Dr. Richard Young and Dorothy Moore, as well as Community Home Care & Hospice, Kim Trajo and Janie Kendall for their compassionate care. Gratitude is extended to Jill Quattlebaum and Clare Lynn Brock for their love and support.

“When the autumn leaves are dropping, and the frost falls every morn; when the pumpkins are ripening, mid the scattered shocks of corn; then my thoughts go stealing, no matter where I roam, to the hills of old Kentucky, and my old Kentucky home.” — Anonymous

Condolences may be addressed to the family online by visiting

Paul Funeral Home & Crematory of Washington is honored to serve the Byrum family.