Charles Byers Nye ’43

Charles Byers Nye was born in Darlington, SC, the youngest son of Howard and Pauline Ashworth Nye of Lumberton, NC. After completing his early childhood education in the public schools of Lumberton, Charles attended The Citadel in Charleston, SC. He received an appointment in 1941 to the United States Military Academy from Congressman Baird Clark of the 7th North Carolina Congressional District. On 1 Jul 1941, Charlie joined the Class of ’45, which, due to WWII, later became the Class of ’44.

A classmate wrote in the ’44 Howitzer. “Chuck has the essential attributes of a fighting soldier. He has all the daring, the drive, and the fighting instinct necessary to make him a dangerous adversary on any battlefield. Although at times he had difficulty with academics, he demonstrated an inherent stick-to-it-ness and ambition that will carry him through any obstacles he may later meet. To wish him luck would be redundant, because he will not require luck to succeed.”

As a member of Company B-2, Charlie participated in wrestling, swimming, and weightlifting. He also served as a hop manager, was a member of the camera club, and was a rifle sharpshooter.

On 6 Jun 1944, 2LT Nye was commissioned in the infantry. After graduation leave he completed the course at the Tank Destroyer School and joined the 89th Tank Destroyer Battalion, which went to Europe at the end of 1944. He served in continuous combat for more than 100 days and received the Bronze Star for Valor and the Purple Heart. He was a unit commander in two campaigns. Upon his return to Ft. Knox, he married Mary Over. He was subsequently assigned to Army Field Forces Board Number Two and received the Army Commendation Ribbon for his work on Task Force Williwaw in Alaska during 1946-47. He then returned to Europe, where he served under General Lucius Clay, who named him the outstanding company commander in his service.

In 1948 CPT Nye resigned his commission. A son, Michael Dominic Nye, was born to Mary and Charles the following year, shortly before his marriage to Mary ended. Charlie subsequently declined acceptance to Harvard Law School, electing instead to earn a law degree from the University of North Carolina. In 1951 he married Mary Jane Love of Charlotte, NC. He graduated from UNC in 1952 and began practicing law that same year in his hometown of Lumberton, NC, where he was additionally affiliated with his father in the Nye Oil Company. During this time, he joined the U.S. Army Reserves, eventually retiring as a major.

In 1955 the Nyes moved to Durham, NC, where Charlie could limit his practice primarily to the legal problems of construction and engineering clients. He served as general counsel to several large contracting companies with interests in the eastern United States, Central America, Africa, and the Middle East. In February 1964 he organized a law firm, Nye, Winders, and Mitchell, although much of his work continued to be out of the country. In legal circles he became distinguished for his intrepid advocacy for his clients, drawing on many of the same qualities that had made him effective in the Army. His defense of a case was always realistic, strategically well planned, fearless, and presented energetically.

Meanwhile, in 1957, Mary Jane had entered the Duke University School of Medicine and completed medical training, specializing in pediatrics. In 1962, during her residency training, a son, Charles Howard Nye, was born. A daughter, Rosemary Love Nye, was born in 1974.

Charles retired from his legal practice in 1993. He had earlier been instrumental in the founding of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Durham and served as a charter member, trustee, and elder in that church. He was also a friend of Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, VA. His principal hobbies were hunting, fishing, and reading.

A sister, Mataline Nye Council Odom, and brother, William Howard Nye, predeceased Charlie. He is survived by his wife, Mary Jane Love Nye; daughter Rosemary Love Nye; sons Michael Dominic Nye and Charles Howard Nye; as well as three grandchildren. Liza, Eleanor, and James Nye.

Copyright 2014,