Margaret Faye Dawson Nelson was born August 16, 1922 in Claremore, Oklahoma where she lived until she graduated from high school in 1940. She died in Tahlequah, Oklahoma on August 2, 2018.
Dr. Nelson married William Ellis Nelson August 1, 1942. He preceded her in death September 5, 1984. Dr. Nelson was also preceded in death by her parents, a stepfather, a brother, and a sister. She is survived by five children: John E. Nelson (and wife Pamela) of Plano, Texas, Diana Nelson Fiorello (and husband Al) of Lancaster, New York, Mary Nelson Hicks (and husband David) of Tahlequah, Oklahoma, William H. Nelson (and wife Kathy) of Edmond, Oklahoma, and Bette Nelson of Tahlequah, Oklahoma; twelve grandchildren: Tracie Nelson Webb, Troy Nelson, Jerrod Nelson, Crystal Nelson, Dr. Albert Fiorello, Chris Fiorello, Marty Wyman Atkinson, Travis Wyman, Justin Wyman, Amber Nelson, Dr. Clayton Nelson, and Jordan Nelson; and ten great grandchildren, Alex Fiorello, Braden Atkinson, Parker Atkinson, Dustin Wyman, Jade Wyman, Kyzer Wyman, Keetyn Wyman, Kya Wyman, Carter Nelson, and Adelyn Nelson; and one sister, Bonnie Bruington of Fort Worth, Texas.
Dr. Nelson was a professor of American Literature at Oklahoma State University where she taught in the Department of English for twenty-one years. She retired in 1990 and moved to Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Dr. Nelson was proud to be Cherokee and served as the Chairman of the Cherokee Election Commission in 1991 and again in 1994.
Dr. Nelson was active in many organizations and served on numerous committees, some of which were: the National Board and State President of the North American Indian Women's Association, Board of the Oklahoma Federation of Indian Women, President of Cherokee Higher Education Foundation, Oklahoma Delegate to the National Education Association representing OSU, OU, and SEOSU, President of OSU Oklahoma Education Association, President of OSU Higher Education Council, and Board of the Oklahoma Folklore Society. She also served on the Oklahoma Education Association Human Relations Commission, OEA State Teacher's Rights Commission, OSU Board of Faculty Representatives, OSU Faculty Council, OSU Academic Appeals Board, OSU Affirmative Action Committee, Minority Faculty and Staff Advisory Committee and the Advisory Board of American Indian Research and Development Inc. She served as a Visiting Scholar to the Cherokee National Historic Society and was a Smithsonian Visiting Associate, Washington DC (one of six chosen nationally).
Dr. Nelson was selected twice as the OSU Arts and Sciences Outstanding Advisor. In 1982 she was selected as an Outstanding Indian Woman by the national North American Indian Women's Association and in 1984 she was named Oklahoma's Outstanding Indian Woman by the Oklahoma Federation of Indian Women. She received the Fred Jones Foundation Award for the Oklahoma State University Outstanding Advisor in 1989 and used the award money to establish the Dawson-Nelson Akanadi Endowed Scholarship Fund at Oklahoma State University. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Dawson-Nelson Akanadi Endowed Scholarship Fund (Fund # 20-15700, OSU Foundation, 400 S. Monroe Street, Stillwater, OK 74074).
Dr. Nelson also served on the Executive Committee of the National Advisory Council on Indian Education. This is a national fifteen-member board appointed by the President of the United States. Dr. Nelson served under President Reagan, President Bush, and President Clinton. Dr. Nelson was listed in numerous national honor publications and served on many additional boards and committees too numerous to mention.
She was a member of the Tahlequah United Methodist Church. Memorial services will be conducted in the chapel of Hart Funeral Home, 1506 N. Grand Avenue, Tahlequah, Oklahoma at 6:00 p.m. on August 6, 2018 with Reverend Shana Dry officiating.
Her ready smile will be missed by family and friends.