Nelie Brown Waller
Birth Date: December 6, 1935Death Date: January 9, 2019
Nelie Brown Waller, noted educator and beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, died at Allen Morgan Health Center on January 9, 2019 at age 83.
The family will receive relatives and friends from 5-7pm on Friday, January 11th at Memorial Park Funeral Home and Cemetery, 5668 Poplar Avenue in Memphis. There will be a memorial service on Saturday at 12:30pm at Emmanuel United Methodist Church, 2404 Kirby Road in Memphis, with a reception to follow.
Nelie was born December 6, 1935, the daughter of Claud Henry Brown and Nelie Clayton Brown. She was preceded in death by her husband of 37 years, Ben Waller, Jr.
She grew up on a farm at Bailey Station near Collierville, surrounded in love and fun by grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and her younger brother, Claud Brown, Jr. who preceded her in death. Her family moved into Memphis upon the completion of World War II, after which she graduated from East High School. She attended Rhodes College, where she majored in Latin and was a member of Chi Omega.
She married Ben Waller in 1956 at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, where they had met in youth group. As members of St. Luke’s and at the request of the Metropolitan Missionary Society, she and Ben became charter members of Emmanuel United Methodist Church in East Memphis in 1968. Nelie and Ben loved Emmanuel and served happily in all work areas of the church.
Nelie led the founding of Emmanuel United Methodist Kindergarten and served as the program Director for 31 years. She touched the lives of thousands of children and families through her involvement in early childhood education. She was well admired and respected by fellow educators, many of whom she loved and mentored. Under her leadership, EUMK became one of the first pre-schools in the United States to be accredited by the National Academy of Childhood Programs. She was an active member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and of Delta Kappa Gamma; and she was recognized for her work at the local, state, and national level, serving as Conference Chairs for both the Memphis Association on Young Children and the Tennessee Association on Young Children.
Nelie lived at Trezevant Manor the past several years. She derived great joy from her friendships there and from worshipping at St. Edward Chapel. Nelie had also been an active member of the Women’s Exchange, Les Passes, Kirby Woods Garden Club, as well as a church youth leader and a Girl Scout leader.
She is survived by her three children, Ginny Zanca (David), Rush Waller (Clara Gwen) and Stewart Waller; four grandchildren, Nelie Lynch (Ben), Peter Zanca (Elizabeth), Benjamin Waller (Rachel Smith) and Wilson Waller; and one great grandchild, Henry Zanca. Her family wishes to thank Margaret Locke for her thoughtful care of Nelie in recent years.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to the Nelie Waller Fund of the Emmanuel United Methodist Kindergarten, or to any other charitable organization of choice.