Grace Harriet Nelson-Reid
1901 - 1984
Grace Nelson was a pioneer music teacher at Southern California Junior College, now La Sierra University, and Pacific Union College. The daughter of a music teacher at what is now Southwestern Adventist University, she taught at SCJC from its founding in 1922, when it was known initially as La Sierra Academy, to 1925.
Although she was listed in the first announcement for the school as the pianoforte and harmony teacher, she taught lessons only in the first year while she scrambled to organize a music program in unfinished buildings and with only two old used pianos and a reed pump organ. Even in those circumstances, Nelson was able to have an "Academic Pianoforte" graduate in each of her three years there.
Following her first year, when she had 25 students, her responsibilities included teaching forty lessons and classes in music theory and history, conducting a chorus, and caring for music associated with chapel and church services. She and her colleague in vocal instruction, Pearl Cooper, gave at least one joint recital in those first three years.
Nelson, a 1922 graduate of Pacific Union College, returned there for additional study in 1925. She then taught pipe organ there from 1927 to 1929.
In 1929 she returned to SCJC, now married to Robert Bruce Reid and listed as Grace Nelson-Reid. During that year she wrote the music for the first school song, Dear S.C.J.C. Other than a listing of her as a piano teacher at the Los Angeles Seventh-day Adventist Academy in the 1932 SDA Yearbook, no additional information about her music career was found.
Her husband was a physician and they were living in Perris, California, near Riverside, when she died at age 83. They had one son, Bruce.
Sources: Melvin S. Hill, A History of Music Education in Seventh-day Adventist Western Colleges, a dissertation on file at the University of Southern California, 1959, 188-194; 1957 listing of Faculty in Diogenes Lantern, Pacific Union College yearbook for that year; 1932 SDA Yearbook, 300; Southwestern Union Record, 27 April 1932, 2; California Death Index, 1940-1997; Obituary for Robert Bruce Reid, Review and Herald, 1 October 1987.