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Nelda Christine (Spain) Pugh


1933 - 2014 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Nelda Christine (Spain) Pugh Obituary
Nelda Christine Spain Pugh
January 25, 1933 ~ May 15, 2014
Resident of Walnut Creek
Nelda Christine Spain Pugh, resident of Rossmoor, Walnut Creek, California, since 1994, went to be with her Lord Jesus Christ on May 15, 2014.
Nelda was the second of five children born to Fritz Oliver and Rosetta Seamans Spain in Noland, Arkansas, on January 25, 1933. She was predeceased by her sister, Alma Jewel Mullen, her brother, Glenn Dale Spain and is survived by her husband, Donald E. Pugh; two sisters, Leila Ann Wuitschick and Betzi Lois Spain of Oregon; brother-in-law, Ray Wuitschick and nieces and nephews.
Nel learned the meaning of hard work as a child. Born and raised on a sharecropper's farm in Arkansas during the depression, life was a persistent challenge for her parents to provide for their family. After a drought destroyed their crops, they drove a 1927 Chevrolet to Oregon in 1941. The family moved from place to place following timber and harvesting jobs while living in tents, barns, sheds, or wherever they could. Nelda, her sisters and brother, used to work along with their folks, picking cotton, hops and other seasonal crops to earn enough money to help their family survive. In spite of these early hardships, Nel soon discovered that education would become the path to freedom from very difficult circumstances. The pressure of life while growing up made the economic goal of education the primary one, but along with economic achievements, education also opened entirely new worlds to her. She also discovered that becoming a Christian as a high school senior did far more for her personally than education could ever do for her economically. Her faith in Jesus Christ became the anchor of her life.
Nelda graduated from Springfield High School, Springfield, Oregon in 1951 and had received the Outstanding Senior Girl's Cup Award. She excelled in high school both academically and extracurricularly because it was an outlet for her and she loved school. Due to her exceptional academic work, she received several awards, including an Elks Most Valued Student Scholarship in which she placed second in Oregon. This made it possible for her to begin college, with the goal of becoming a teacher, something she had always wanted to be but thought impossible due to financial circumstances. She received the BS degree in Business Administration from the University of Oregon in 1956 and taught at the high school from which she graduated. Nel finished the MS in Interdisciplinary Studies with a dual major in Business Education and Counseling in 1962 from the U. of Oregon. After three years as Assistant Registrar and Assistant Professor of Business at Southern Oregon College, she served on the business faculty at Humboldt State College in Arcata, California. At Humboldt, she published research on Comparative Business Education in England, Denmark and Switzerland, researched on location in Europe.
In 1966 she accepted a position at Santa Rosa Junior College where she met her future husband. After he accepted a position at the University of Guam, and following a marriage proposal by phone, Nelda flew to Guam in 1971, where they were married and afterwards honeymooned on Saipan. She described living on Guam and working as a counselor at the University as a fascinating experience, with over 20 language groups from all over the western Pacific attending the university, mainly to learn English. During this time, the Pughs traveled extensively in Southeast Asia and Micronesia, including the Rock Islands of Palau, between Koror and Peleliu, and circumnavigated the world before returning to the States for her husband to complete his Ph.D residency. In 1976, Nelda joined the business faculty at Antelope Valley College in Lancaster, California. A colleague recalls, "In the early 80s when word processing came onto the scene, she was instrumental in convincing administration to purchase the first computers on the college campus and was drafted to teach the first word processing class. There were no classes where she could learn wordprocessing. She learned it on her own and created lessons and materials for her students. When Nelda put her mind to a task, there was no quitting." She later authored a three volume text book, Machine Transcription, a Simulation, published by Prentice-Hall, and was honored by colleagues for her distinguished contributions and awarded the 1988 Scholar in Residence from the College District. After serving on the faculties of three secondary schools and six colleges and universities, Nelda retired in 1994 after 37 years of teaching, counseling and administration.
In retirement, Nel resumed her lifelong interest in painting, taking classes and workshops through the Rossmoor Art Association and frequently exhibited her watercolors. A significant highlight and source of great joy was her association with the Rossmoor Bible Study as a women's discussion leader for nine years until the onset of dementia with memory loss made it impossible for her to continue.
A teacher and counselor of unusual talent, Nelda was generous and tenderhearted in giving of herself to others in special ways. She was consistently cheerful, optimistic and encouraging to all who were fortunate to be her students and friends. Nel was an active and contributing person, very much a doer and never sidestepped a challenge. Students commented on how she inspired and encouraged them to face difficulties and strive for excellence in scholarship and set high standards. She would say, " knowing the economic depths from which education alone lifted me, and the gratitude I shall ever feel for my teachers who went more than one extra mile, is it any wonder that I am sold on education?" She was able to see through the circumstances of life and look to her Savior who she knew would always sustain her and provide the strength and encouragement to meet the trials that life invariably brings. How dearly she will be missed. Throughout her long and active life she affirmed an abiding faith in Jesus Christ because, as she quoted: "...I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day" [2nd Timothy 1:12]. Nelda professed a strong conviction that although she would be absent from the body, she would be present with the Lord [2nd Cor. 5:8]. Praise God that she is now in His presence and healed.
Special mention is given to Earle and Julie Fries; Bill and Kathleen Blake and Lennie Davis, dear friends, for their unwavering support and kindness. Also, heartfelt thanks to Arlene Buala, Johnson Balan and other R&N caregivers; Maricar Mendoza, RN, BSN and other support staff of Vitas Hospice.
A Memorial Service celebrating Nelda's life will be held in the Fireside Room, Rossmoor, Walnut Creek, 2:00 p.m., Saturday, June 28th, followed by a reception. Private interment took place at Park View Cemetery, French Camp, California, on May 22nd. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Nelda's memory may be sent to the , 1060 La Avenida, Mountain View, CA 94043; Vitas Hospice, 355 Lennon Ln., Suite 150, Walnut Creek, CA 94598 and/or Thru-The Bible-Radio Network, Box 7100, Pasadena, CA 91109.
Published in East Bay Times on June 22, 2014
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