Warner and Nellie Bertha Nash McClure

1905-1995           1906 - 1956 

Warner Elliot and Nellie Nash McClure were involved in Seventh-day Adventist secondary and higher education in both Africa and the United States. He served as an administrator, and she taught piano and directed choirs.


Warner was born in Jackson, Alabama, on November 26, 1905, the oldest of nine children of Warner Clinton and Ara Caroline Elliot McClure. His maternal grandfather, Jesse Morgan Elliot, had been a Union Soldier in the Civil War and was an early SDA minister in the South. Warner attended Southern Junior College, now Southern Adventist University, where he completed the two-year Junior Collegiate Course in 1924 and was elected president of the newly formed SJA alumni association. He then enrolled at Emmanuel Missionary College, now Andrews University, where he served as editor of the EMC paper and the EMC yearbook before graduating with a B.A. degree in 1927.   


While at SJC, He had met and dated Nellie Nash, a music student.  She had been born in Palmetto, Florida, on March 13, 1906, the youngest of four children and only daughter of Nellie Irene Gibbs and Robert Lee Nash. She completed a two-year diploma in 1925, serving in her final year as pianist for the Sabbath School. Following graduation, she attended EMC, where she continued her friendship with McClure and her study in music.


Warner was hired to serve as a teacher and dean of boys at Graysville Academy in Tennessee when he graduated, and in the following year, Nellie and Warner married in Florida on July 17, 1928, in Palmetto, Florida. They then traveled to Tennessee, where he was principal of Graysville Academy. In 1929 they returned to Florida, where he was principal and she the girls' dean and music teacher at Forest Lake Academy. While at FLA, he completed an M.A. 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 invited the McClures to go to Africa as missionaries, he to serve as director of the Malamulo Mission and Educational Secretary of the Southeast African Union.  They relocated to Helderberg College in South Africa in 1942, where he was president and she taught music. They would be at HC for thirteen 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 prepared the choral society for a graduation weekend performance of the "Hallelujah" chorus from the Messiah. When others followed her as choir director, she assisted with piano instruction and accompanying as needed.


During their stay in Africa, a son, Warner Merwin, and daughter, Marjorie Nell, were born. They returned to Florida for medical reasons in 1954, after seventeen years in Africa.  He was principal of Forest Lake Academy, from 1955 to 1958, and she taught piano, before succumbing to cancer on October 18, 1956, at age fifty.


In 1958, Warner became Academic Dean of Emmanuel Missionary College, later Dean of the College Division at Andrews University when the school was renamed, a position he held from 1967 to 1971, when he retired. Following his retirement, he briefly served as assistant to the AU president.  He had married Mildred Evelyn Huxtable Nelson, a nurse with previous administrative experience, in February 1959. She assumed leadership of the department of nursing education in the 1959-1960 school year.


After Warner fully retired they moved to Loma Linda, California, where they were living when Evelyn died on October 4, 1994, at age 76. He was living there when he died of renal failure on June 25, 1995, at age 89. In that same year he received the Southern College (now SAU) Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his work in education


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.