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Elise Nelson Tennison

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Elise Nelson Tennison January 1, 1921 - July 15, 2013 Elise Nelson Tennison of Silsbee, age 92, died July 15, 2013. Born in Zachary, LA on Jan 1, 1921 to Joseph Alvin Nelson and Clelie Thompson Nelson, Elise was the middle child of five. While in Zachary she was named Valedictorian of her high school class of 1937. She began college life at Louisiana State University at age 16, majoring in both music and English. Having grown up in a musically talented family, Elise sang on radio station WJBO in Baton Rouge for several years. During college she performed in LSU Music School operas and was accomplished at piano. In addition she was a member of Beta Sigma Omicron sorority where she served as president for 2 years. Elise married George Tennison, then of DeQuincy, LA, on Sept. 2, 1940 while both were attending LSU. Husband George always said he first fell in love with Elise when he saw her singing with the band in the college cafeteria, a job that provided her with meals during this cash-strapped Depression era. After meeting George, Elise chose to abandon her dreams of a career in music and decided being a wife and mother would be more rewarding. After graduation they moved to New Orleans so George could enter LSU Medical School. While there Elise worked as a secretary at the U.S. Navy shipyard and sometimes sang on stage with celebrities to help raise money for war bonds to support the U.S. WWII effort. Dr. George and Elise moved to Silsbee in 1946 after he completed medical school and service in the Navy during WWII. Dr. George's medical practice included operating a maternity ward above his clinic where Elise assisted by cooking meals and helping to care for the new mothers and their babies. On one occasion Dr. George did not make it to the ward in time and Elise had to deliver a baby. The most important things to Elise were family, church, music, art and travel. Elise's devotion to her church had a far reaching effect on her community. She and her husband George along with others were instrumental in founding St. John's Episcopal Church in 1954. Serving on the Altar Guild and teaching Sunday School and Vacation Bible School were rewarding activities. She also served on the building committee for the new sanctuary in 1979. Elise utilized her musical talent at St. John's. She played the church organ for over 30 years, sang in the choir, and led a children's choir which included her own 5 children, nieces and nephews and other young church members. Elise was also a member of the Silsbee Women's Chorus. In addition, she was an accomplished artist, encouraging and providing art materials to her children and grandchildren and spending many happy hours in this rewarding hobby. Elise was devoted to her husband, children and extended family. Since her husband George worked long hours, there was limited family time. To enable the kids to spend time with their father, in the evenings Elise would often load up all the kids in the station wagon and the family would travel down bumpy country roads while Dr. George completed his house calls. She would sit in the car and watch the kids play chase around the car until Dr. George came out of the patient's home. While raising her family, Elise actively worked as a Camp Fire Girls Leader, Little League volunteer, and PTA member. She was also actively involved in the Republican Party, helping to establish a two-party political system in Hardin County. Elise and husband George also helped establish the Silsbee YOMACO Club which held dance socials once a month above the Bluebonnet Cafe. Elise and her husband enjoyed their opportunities for extensive world travel besides most of the U.S. Other countries visited included Russia, Turkey, Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, Central Europe, the British Isles, Holland, the Greek Isles, Canada and Mexico. Both Elise and her husband lived long and rewarding lives, but they both would often tell others that getting old is not for sissies. Elise is survived by sons George Nelson and wife Martha of Mandeville, LA and Dr. Douglas Keith and wife Pam of Silsbee; daughters Jan Stover and husband Earl III of Silsbee, Chris McCormick and husband Glen of Carencro, LA, and Melanie Tennison of Silsbee; other survivors include 15 grandchildren, 21 great- grandchildren; brother Roy Nelson and wife Ruby of Grand Prairie; sister-in-law Elizabeth McClelland and husband Bob of Silsbee, and sister- in-law Marie McDonald and husband Bill, also of Silsbee. Elise was preceded in death by her husband of 70 years, Dr. George Tennison, her parents, her brother Alvin Nelson, sisters Clelie Crawford and Yvette Nelson, grandchildren Candace Tennison and Mack Lacy II. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the St. John's Episcopal Church Memorial Fund. Visitation will be Thursday, July 18th from 5-7 at Farmer's Funeral Home in Silsbee. Funeral Services will be Friday, July 19th at 10:00 am at St. John's Episcopal Church, Roosevelt Dr., Silsbee. Burial will follow at Resthaven Cemetary. The family would like to thank caregivers Wendy Tanton and Barbara Richard for their dedicated service and Nancy Tyler and her staff at Silsbee Convalescent Center for their devoted care and kindness.

Published in The Beaumont Enterprise on July 17, 2013
Funeral Home
R. S. Farmer Funeral Home, Inc.
415 North 4th Street Silsbee, TX 77656
(409) 385-2828
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