Frances D. Eason-Nelson was born on November 15, 1952 in Arkadelphia, Arkansas to the union of Edward E. and Desarea House Eason.
Frances was the wife of her high school sweetheart, Terry Nelson. Frances was very active in her community, church, and career. She spent several years engaging in volunteer and community service events in Los Angeles, CA during her husband’s 8-year professional football career with the Los Angeles Rams.
Her previous Arkadelphia community involvement included: the Arkadelphia School Board, Badger/Band Booster Clubs, former teacher at Arkadelphia High School, Pep Club sponsor, Junior Class sponsor, Ione Bynum Childcare Center Board/Public Relations Officer, Perritt Elementary School PTC organization president, Hands Across America, East Clark County Volunteer Fire Department, Clark County United Way Board, the Arkadelphia Christmas Parade committee, Arkadelphia Chamber of Commerce Board, Clark County Economic Development Board, Arkadelphia Regional Economic Development Alliance, and charter member of Chi Nu Omega graduate chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She was a Silver Star and Life Member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority Inc. and served in various roles within Chi Nu Omega.
She was the first female and first African American elected to serve on the South Central Electric Cooperative Board in 1995. She served the board for over 22 years and achieved “Director Gold”, the highest NRECA degree. She served the board as South-Central Board Secretary/Treasurer. She served on the state’s AECI board and represented South Central on the AECC board. She was also appointed to the State’s Alternative Energy Board.
Frances was a member of Mt. Morriah Missionary Baptist Church of Arkadelphia. She loved her church family dearly and was a very active member. She formerly served her church as: Youth Director, Announcement Clerk, Co-Chair of the Henry C. McCauley Scholarship Committee, Historian, Co-Chair of the Centennial Committee, Vacation Bible School teacher, Kitchen Committee member, Missionary Society, devotional leader, Co-President of the Brown Springs-Mt. Morriah Outreach Center, and numerous other roles.
She attended Mt. Morriah school, Peake High School, and was in the first class to integrate and attend Arkadelphia High School. She attended Ouachita Baptist University and received her BSE and MSE degrees there. She was the former Miss Bronze, the first African American majorette, and a member of BASS at Ouachita Baptist University. She taught English/Oral Communications at Arkadelphia High School. She went on to build a career at Elk Horn Bank (Southern Bancorp) where she was the New Accounts Manager and she established a student’s account program in which high school students were able to open accounts and learn about financial literacy. She continued her banking career at Citizen’s (Region’s) bank before transitioning into higher education. She then began her career in TRIO programs, federally funded education programs for underrepresented students. It was at that time that she truly found her passion and began changing the lives of college students. She was employed by Ouachita Baptist University as a Talent Search coordinator and then Student Support Services/Academic Success Center Director.
She also created the Reaching Out to Multicultural Students (ROMS) organization and served as the organization sponsor. Following her time at OBU, she continued her work in Student Support Services at College of the Ouachitas in Malvern, AR as the Transfer/Career Specialist. She served students in TRIO programs for over 20 years. She also served as President of the Arkansas Association of Student Assistance Programs (AASAP) and served the Southwest Association of Student Assistance Programs (SWASAP) while being a supportive member and advocate for the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE).
While she loved her community, church, and career, she treasured her family the most. Her most exceptional roles were as wife, mother, and “Granny Lady.” She is survived by her husband of 47 years, Terry Nelson, Sr., her son, Terry Nelson, Jr. (Dr. Shanea Nelson), daughter, Desarae Nelson, and “her girls” (granddaughters) Mary Grace Elizabeth and Emerie Frances Nelson. She is also survived by her sisters Lillie Eason and Hazel Jefferson (Jessie Jefferson); her brothers Michael Eason (Vickie Eason), Willie Eason (Jean Eason), and Charles Eason; and her dear sister/friend Norma Eason. She also leaves behind several family members, friends, colleagues, and associates. To know her was to love her and she will be greatly missed.
Submitted by the Nelson Family
Public visitation will be from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. on Friday, June 26, 2020 at Mt. Morriah Baptist Church. At the family’s request graveside services are intimate and private.