Nellie Bertha Nash McClure

1906 - 1956 

Nellie McClure, a pianist and choir director, taught music at an academy and college in the Seventh-day Adventist school system. She and her husband, Warner E. McClure, served in Africa for seventeen years.

Nellie was born and raised in Palmetto, Florida, the youngest of four children and the only daughter born to Nellie Irene and Robert L. Nash. She attended Southern Junior College, now Southern Adventist University, where she completed a two-year diploma in the arts in May 1925, serving in her last year as pianist for the Sabbath School.

It was during this time that she met Warner E. McClure, who graduated in 1924 with a two-year diploma and was elected president of the alumni association upon graduation. That fall, he enrolled at EMC, now Andrews University, where he could complete a four-year degree. After she graduated from SJC the following year, she attended EMC, where she continued her friendship with McClure and her study in music.

Warner graduated in 1927 and was hired to serve as a teacher and dean of boys at Graysville Academy in Tennessee. The following year, Nellie and Warner married in Florida and then returned to Tennessee, where he served as principal of the academy. In 1929 the McClures returned to Florida, where he was principal and she served as girls' dean and taught music at Forest Lake Academy. While at FLA, he completed an MA in history at the University of Michigan in 1933.

In the October 1937 Autumn Council of the church in Battle Creek, Michigan, SDA church leaders voted to invite the McClures to go to Africa as missionaries. They accepted, leaving in January 1938.

He served as director of the Malamulo Mission until 1942, when they relocated to Helderberg College in South Africa, he to be principal and she to teach music. They would be at HC for the next fourteen years, except for the 1947 and 1948 school years, when he took a study leave to do class work for a doctorate at Michigan State University. He completed a Ph.D. in history at MSU in 1950.

Nellie initially taught piano and directed the choir at HC. When the school celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in their first year at HC, she assisted with the music for alumni weekend and also prepared the choral society for a graduation weekend performance of the "Hallelujah" chorus from the Messiah in December. When others succeeded her as choir director, she continued to assist with piano instruction and accompany as needed.

She was a good cook and known for her birthday cakes, prepared for family, friends, and students, sometimes without charge and at other times for the price of the ingredients. During their stay in Africa, a son, Warner Merwin, and daughter, Marjorie Nell, were born. Both took piano lessons from their mother.

In 1954 the McClures left Africa for medical reasons and returned to Florida, where he served as principal of Forest Lake Academy, from 1955 to 1958, and she taught piano for a short while, before succumbing to cancer in October 1956 at age fifty. Warner would serve as Academic Dean of the College division at Andrews University from 1958 to 1971, when he retired and was named Dean Emeritus.

 

ds/2011

Sources: Interview, Warner M. McClure, 14 March 2011; 1910 and 1920 U.S. Census Records; Southern Union Worker, 26 October 1922, 6; 5 and 19 June 1924, 6 and 2; 6 November 1924, 7; Review and Herald, 2 December 1937, 17; 23 July 1942, 12; 31 July 1958, 25; Southern African Division Outlook, 1 April 1942, 2; 1 September 1942, 1; 15 October 1942, 3; 15 April 1949; 15 December 1954; Lake Union Herald, 17 June 1958, 8; 7 December 1971, 16.