Gary graduated from Mountain Grove High School in Mountain Grove, Missouri, in 1972 and completed his bachelor of science degree in secondary education with a major in comprehensive social studies from Missouri State University (then called Southwest Missouri State University) in 1975. He later obtained a master’s degree and specialist degree in education administration from Missouri State University and a doctorate of education from the University of Arkansas.
Gary began his 30-year public education teaching career in the fall of 1975 at Mountain Grove High School teaching American history. He held administrative positions of transportation director, assistant middle school principal, middle school principal, and assistant superintendent in charge of all support services in the district at his retirement in 2005. While he taught in Mountain Grove during the day, he also taught college classes at night for Southwest Baptist University in Mountain View and Bolivar; Drury University in Cabool, Ava, and Springfield; Williams Woods University; and after retirement, Missouri State University. Gary never stopped teaching, learning, and researching his passion, American history, and more recently, Roman history. He also enjoyed collecting antiques, precious metals, and gemstones.
Jan Ellen Nickell was born January 24, 1953, in Kirksville, Missouri, the daughter of Jimmie and Alma (Mills) Nickell. She began her life in Heaven on May 1, 2014 at the age of 61.
Jan graduated from Linn County High School in 1971 and completed a bachelor of science degree in library science from Truman State University (then called Northeast Missouri State University) in 1976. She taught at New Cambria High School, Macon High School, and Louisiana High School before coming to Mountain Grove to be the high school librarian for a few years and then became a full-time homemaker and Avon representative which she maintained until her death. Even after moving to Springfield in the early 1990s, she continued her Avon route in Mountain Grove. In recent years, she also prepared tax returns and volunteered at Southwest Missouri Office on Aging.
Gary and Jan were married on May 5, 1984 in Jefferson City, Missouri.
Gary and Jan both loved to garden. Gary took pride in his roses and watched and named the birds, squirrels, shrews, chipmunks, and a possum that lived in his back yard. Jan had a separate kitchen in their home to can and process the year’s produce. She loved to quilt, sew, and knit. Her latest project was weaving/knitting hats for oncology patients at Saint Anthony’s Hospital in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She had a large collection ready to distribute at the time of her death. She also enjoyed growing all kinds of flowers and helping Gary name all the critters in the back yard. He left his pet hamster, Sweetie, to mourn his death.
Gary and Jan loved their children very much. They were the most important part of their lives.
When learning that her daughter, Jessica, was getting married, Jan was overjoyed to finally get the grandchildren she always wanted. One of the greatest joys of their lives was the birth of their son, Jimmie Junior Tyrrell, only to become the greatest pain they would ever endure with Jimmie’s death at age three on April 17, 1992 from a brain tumor. Gary’s dedication to his family was evident because when learning of Jimmie’s disease, he built a home and moved to Springfield so Jimmie could get the care and services he needed. After Jimmie’s passing, not a day went by that Jan did not think of Jimmie and visualize what he would be doing if he were still here.
Gary and Jan are preceded in death by Gary’s parents, Alvin and Evelyn Tyrrell; Jan’s father, Jimmie Nickell; Jan’s brother, John Dale Nickell in 1998; and their son, Jimmie Junior Tyrrell in 1992.
They are survived by their daughter, Jessica Tyrrell; her fiancé, Jason Murray and his children: Jackson “Jack”, John Thomas “JT”, and Alexandra “Alex” Murray; Jan’s mother, Alma Nickell; Gary’s brothers, Larry Tyrrell and wife Rita, and Terry Tyrrell, all of Mountain Grove; Jan’s brothers, James Nickell and wife Lillian of Milan, Missouri, Jeff Nickell of Kearney, Missouri, and Jason Nickell and wife Sharon of Gault, Missouri; Jan’s sisters, Judy Greathouse and husband Leonard of Pleasant Valley, Missouri, Jo Ann Asher of Laclede, Missouri, Jeanne Bauman and husband Steve of Woodbridge, Virginia, and Joy Nickell and husband Carlos Diaz of Aurora, Colorado; many well-loved nieces and nephews, and other family and friends who will miss them greatly.
Visitation will be held on Friday, May 9, 2014, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in the Mtn. Grove High School gymnasium.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Gary and Jan Tyrrell Scholarship Fund for a Mtn. Grove student to attend college.
A memory jar will be available for anyone to deposit a short note about a special memory of Gary and Jan at the visitation and service.
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, May 10, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. in the Mtn. Grove High School gymnasium with Rev. Gene Edwards and Rev. Tommie Gaston officiating. Song selections “The Old Rugged Cross” and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” will be provided by the First Baptist Church choir. Pallbearers will be Evan Tyrrell, John Tyrrell, Brad Mabe, John Talley, Terry Azavedo, Rob Crewse, Tom Jones, J.T. Hale, Steve Keeney, Dwayne Hiler, Jeff Massey, Richard Nelson, James Shannon, and Jerry Connor. Burial will be at 2:00 p.m. in Hazelwood Cemetery in Springfield. Arrangements are under the direction of the Craig-Hurtt Funeral Home, Mtn. Grove.