Judson celebrates life of alumna Nelle H. Pierson ‘38
The Judson College community is saddened by news of the recent death of Nelle H. Pierson, a devoted alumna of the Centennial Class of 1938.
Born in Atlanta on January 12, 1916, Nelle Pierson lived most of her life in Jacksonville, Florida. She began as a freshman at Judson College in 1935. Immediately her talents in athletics were revealed; that year she was named captain of the freshman varsity field hockey team. Throughout her years at Judson, Nelle continued playing for the College’s varsity field hockey team (acting as its captain for three years), as well as offering her skills in basketball, baseball, and track. She was a member of the Athletic Board and the Baptist Student Union Council, as well as a staff member of the Triangle, the Judson student newspaper. The 1938 Conversationalist yearbook touted her interest in government and public affairs, praising her “individuality” and role as secretary of the Current Events Club. The Conversationalist staff writers began her senior biography: “Jokes, athletics, current events, and Nelle Pierson all belong together!”
The same could be said about Nelle and her College, which she loyally supported throughout her lifetime. In a recent letter to Judson, her niece Anne Alderman Brockwell wrote, “Judson was the most important thing in her life, other than her family and her church.”
Nelle graduated from Judson with the class of 1938, the College’s centennial class. She received her dental hygienist license in 1947 from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dentistry and spent her career in Jacksonville, Florida. She approached her professional involvements with the same enthusiastic dedication with which she supported her College. In 1972, she was awarded a paid life membership to the Florida Dental Hygienists Association, one of only 5 such awards that had been given in the organization’s 46-year history. The award was given in recognition of her 25 years of “faithful membership” to the organization, which included roles as its treasurer and president. In a response that echoed her Judson education’s mindfulness of others, Nelle focused not on the recognition she received but on the impact those in her profession make on the world: “she has received tremendous satisfaction in the public’s appreciation of [dental hygienists’] role in educating the public in better dental health” (Jacksonville Journal, May 12, 1972).
Though she was far from her Alma Mater, she made time to return to Judson’s campus for J-Day and other special events. Nelle faithfully gave to the College’s annual and scholarship funds, usually in memory or honor of a Judson friend. She remained in contact with her classmates and acted as 1938 Class Agent, writing class newsletters and solicitations and actively submitting address changes and news to the Alumnae Office. She kept regular correspondence with administrators at the College and was instrumental in starting a Jacksonville chapter of the Judson College Alumnae Association. In a chapter report she submitted in July 1990, Nelle wrote: “Not too many years ago, there was no alumnae chapter in Jacksonville. One day the Civic Music Association announced that Irene Jordan would be the featured soloist for their concert series. Her appearance led to the discovery of a number of Judson alumnae in the area…Since that time, we have enjoyed a wonderful Judson fellowship, spread the word about our Alma Mater, and recruited a number of girls for Judson.”
We are grateful for, and have been long blessed by, Nelle Pierson’s strong love for her College. Her life reflected the “Judson ideal” in so many ways: her care for others, her active intellect, her dedication to doing things well, and her love for her family, her friends, and her God. Our condolences to her family and friends.