EDISON, NJ – Resident Charles Nolley – a World War II veteran assigned to the 115th Army Air Force Base Unit that supported the famed Tuskegee Airmen – has been named Grand Marshal for the town’s upcoming 55th annual Memorial Day parade.
Edison’s popular annual parade will kick off at 2 p.m., on Sunday, May 28.
“Not only is Mr. Nolley a witness to history, he is living-history. His story is one of perseverance, dedication, service and success,” said Mayor Thomas Lankey. “We are privileged to have Charles and his wife Martha as our neighbors and honored to have him serve as parade Grand Marshal.”
Drafted in 1943, Nolley – now 99 – trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama to support the elite Army Air Corps fighting force known as “Tuskegee Airmen,” four squadrons of African American fighter pilots.
A 1937 graduate of Arts High School in Newark, Nolley enjoyed acting, dancing, stand-up comedy and he was preparing for an entertainment career before being drafted. After his 1946 honorable discharge, Nolley briefly returned to show business, performing in several Broadway productions.
Later, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Virginia State University, and a Master’s degree in dramatic arts from Columbia University. He went on to teach at Barringer Prep in Newark, where he served as vice principal before his retirement.
Nolley and his wife have two adult children, three grandchildren, and are both active members in Edison’s Oak Tree Senior Club.
The Edison Memorial Day Parade will begin at Walsh Avenue, in the Clara Barton section, and travel along Amboy Avenue to Brower Avenue where refreshments will be served at the American Legion’s Clara Barton Post 324. The parade will again feature the “Most Patriotic” Bicycle Decorating Contest with prizes for creative youngsters.
EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this story contained inaccurate information and has been corrected.