Nell Fuqua McLure Arnold

Published 10:38 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Nell Fuqua McLure Arnold went to be with the Lord on March 2, 2019, after touching the lives of so many over her 94 years. Nell was a true Southern lady with exceptional intelligence, hardworking spirit, strong faith, quick wit, and an unforgettable gift of hospitality. She loved her family and friends dearly. Nell will be greatly missed; however, her memory and legacy will not be forgotten by all that loved her.

She was born November 29, 1924, on her family’s farm in Pike County to the parents of William Rankin McLure Sr. and Leila Fuqua McLure. Growing up on the farm taught Nell hard work and was the catalyst for her love of nature, which continued all her life. Nell’s childhood was filled with memories of milking cows and gathering eggs from the chicken coop before school, stealing off to the watermelon patch for a sweet treat, and getting into a myriad of adventures with her siblings. Some of these antics included trying to teach a calf to be ridden, attempting to fish in her brother’s “boat with a hole in it,” and meeting new people that stopped at her family’s general store.

After graduating from Pike County High School in Brundidge, she attended the University of Alabama where she was recognized for her superior scholastic record and leadership on campus, including her selection for membership in Mortar Board. Nell received a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics Education and a Master of Science in Health & Nutrition from the University of Alabama. Upon graduation, Nell accepted a job opportunity in Russellville, Alabama. What she thought was going to be a short-term move to Franklin County in 1945 turned into a 36-year career with the Russellville City School System.

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During her time as an educator, Nell held many positions from high school home economics teacher to one of the first vocational/guidance counselors employed in Alabama. In 1959, she was chosen by the University of Alabama as a distinguished alumnus of the School of Home Economics. She was the first woman to serve as the Chairperson of the State Advisory Council and also the first woman to be the recipient of a life membership in the American Vocational Association. One of Nell’s most prized honors was that she was named the State of Alabama’s Teacher of the Year in 1968. She had hundreds of letters written by students and colleagues in support of her outstanding personal contributions to their lives and her excellence in teaching. One of the letters stated, “She inspired respect and admiration as a teacher and as a person. We all consider her our ideal.”

Nell loved people and helping others so she served in leadership roles across the community in various civic and social organizations. She was an active member within her church, First United Methodist Church in Russellville. Nell was on the Board and took a vital leadership role when the Church built its new sanctuary in 1964. She also held various other roles within the church from Chairman of the Education Commission and Children’s Division to Director of the Christmas and Easter programs as well as Wedding Coordinator.  Additionally, she was a Registered Dietitian and enjoyed her time meal planning for various hospitals and elderly care facilities. Due to her excellence in community service, she was honored with the Community Service Award from Ford Motor Company in 1965, where her husband was employed, as well as the Franklin County Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999. 

Some of Nell’s personal interests included her great delight in the outdoors as a Master Gardener. She was known far and wide for her gorgeous yard in Russellville. She was also known for her fabulous entertaining skills. Nell knew how to plan the finest party, was the epitome of the perfect hostess, and her cooking skills were enjoyed and admired by all. After her retirement, she enjoyed traveling. Her family enjoyed hearing stories of all of her trips across the world, including her favorites to Germany, France, and Scotland where she got to visit some of her family roots.

Nell is survived by her beloved daughter, Mary Elizabeth Rothe (Neil) of Montgomery; her dear granddaughter, Elizabeth Ann Mathews (John) of Montgomery; and two great-grandchildren whom she adored, Ava Elizabeth Mathews and John Christopher Mathews IV. She is also survived by two great nieces, Kelsey Ward Mayo (Michael Taylor) of Albany, New York and Rebecca Ward Mayo of Atlanta. In addition, she is survived by her nieces Priscilla McLure Beasley of Montgomery, Deborah McLure Ilyia of Fairhope, and Melissa McLure Baker of Ozark, and their children.

Nell was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Cleveland Clinton Arnold Jr.; sister, Mary McLure Mulloy; brother, William Rankin McLure Jr.; niece, Mary Jane Ward Mayo; and nephew, William Rankin McLure, III.

Services will be held on Friday, March 8 at the United Methodist Church in Brundidge. Visitation will be held at 1:00 p.m. with a memorial service beginning at 1:30 p.m. Following the service, interment will take place at Lakeview Cemetery in Brundidge.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in her memory to the Building Fund of First United Methodist Church, Russellville, Alabama.

One of Nell’s favorite quotes, “What you are is God’s gift to you. What you make of yourself is your gift to God,” embodies how she lived her life and how she was truly a gift to all that knew her.

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