Ms. Hiawatha Chanell “Nell” Briggs was born Sept. 23, 1977 ,in Jeff Davis County to Sharon Briggs and Melvin Knox Sr. She was raised by her maternal great-grandparents, the late Charlie and Mattie Bennett. Hiawatha (Nell) died March 25 at her home in Metter.
Hiawatha (Nell) was educated in Jeff Davis County Schools and graduated from Jeff Davis High School. After graduation, Hiawatha continued her education at the Pineland Behavior Health and Development Center in Baxley. After many years of living in Hazlehurst, Hiawatha moved to Metter where she lived in the home of a loving, caring, and Christian woman, Diane McNeely. Until her death, for more than 14 years, Hiawatha called Ms. Diane’s home her home. Hiawatha often spoke of Ms. Diane as much more than a caregiver and treated her as her extended family. Hiawatha was a faithful member of Big Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Hazlehurst until she moved to Metter. She would always visit Big Bethel when she came to Hazlehurst to visit family and friends. She loved her extended family and thoroughly enjoyed being with the family for Thanksgiving and family gatherings. She knew each family member by name and nicknames. Hiawatha loved to laugh, dance, sing, and tell her family members how she felt.
Hiawatha was preceded in death by her great-grandparents, Aunt Doris Jackson, and Uncle Keith Briggs. survivors include mother, Sharon Briggs; father, Melvin Knox Sr.; uncles Jerrell Briggs, Marion Alston, Marvin Turner, and Vernon Turner; aunts Flora Roby and Brenda Turner; special first cousins Shatorra Holman and Angela Moore; special caregiver, Diane McNeely; special cousin, Sonja R. Thornton Hall; and a host of great-aunts, great-uncles, cousins, and friends.
Graveside services were held April 2 at Frances Chapel Cemetery in McRae. Words of comfort were delivered by Pastor Reuben Bennett Jr.
Family and friends served as active pallbearers and flower attendants.
Thornton’s Funeral Home was in charge.