Nelda was born in Houston, TX and graduated from Bellaire High School. She went to Austin College where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology and then to University of Texas Health Science Center where she earned a degree in physical therapy and soon after a master’s degree in Elementary Education. Nelda came to Athens in 2001 when her husband’s work’s home office moved to Duluth and so that their oldest daughter, who has Friedreich’s ataxia, could finish college at UGA (her daughter earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Public Health). Nelda worked as a Physical Therapist part time at rehab centers and nursing homes, and as a home healthcare worker before retiring to be home with her two daughters with special needs. Always interested in early education and literacy, Nelda has been active with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library where she serves on the Clarke County advisory board. She also volunteers in a first-grade classroom at Barrow Elementary. Nelda has a passion for Pickleball, which she says helped her cope with her middle daughter’s illness and passing and serves on the board of the Athens Area Pickleball Association. For many years Nelda and her husband were active in fundraising for the study of Friedreich’s ataxia, a genetic disease that affected two of their three daughters. She is active with her church, Emmanual Episcopal, cooking meals for Family Promise (previously called the Interfaith Hospitality Network) which helps families experiencing homelessness get back on their feet. Nelda lives in Oconee County with her husband of almost 50 years, Bob and their oldest daughter, Robbi (41). Their youngest daughter, Katie, lives in Atlanta and is married and has two little girls, with one on the way.
What is your favorite thing to do in Athens?
My very favorite thing to do in Athens is to play Pickleball. Eating out at local restaurants would be a close second.
Do you have any favorite spots you like to eat?
Oh yeah, we have lots of places we like to eat. We like Seabear, The National, so many good spots in Athens. We are very easy to please when it comes to good food.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
To think twice about being so busy.
If you could see any show or any band anywhere, who would you see and where?
If I could go to see anyone in concert, I would want to see Yo-Yo Ma. He is such a fascinating person to me and so skilled. We lived in France for a year and a half, so I would love to see him in Paris!
What is your favorite book or a book you find yourself rereading, referencing or gifting most often?
Gilead: A Novel, by Marilynne Robinson. It has so much about life, death, old age and youth.
Do you have a favorite movie or remember the first movie you saw in a movie theatre?
The first movie I ever saw would have been a Disney movie, and I don’t remember which one it was but that was back in the fifties. My favorite movie that I have always loved is Witness. That movie has always stuck with me as being so good.
If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go and why?
If I could travel anywhere in the world I would like to go back to France and just travel around there more. When we lived there our children were little and we didn’t get to do everything we wanted to do. I have always loved history and the food is hard to beat!
If you could have lunch with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and where?
It would definitely be my mom. We would go anywhere.
If you could put anything on a billboard, what would you put?
What three words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word “home”?
Family, meals and love.