GREENSBORO - Nell Davis Abels, 93, of Abbotswood at Irving Park, died on Monday, December 8, 2008.
A memorial service will be held 2:30 p.m. Sunday, December 14, at West Market Street United Methodist Church, 302 W. Market St. Interment will follow at Forest Lawn Cemetery.
Nell, a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and aunt, was a gifted pianist and organist; an inspiring music teacher; and a devoted friend, was born February 7, 1915, in Rock Hill, S.C., to John Lorraine Davis, Sr. and Nell Reid Jenkins Davis. She began her musical studies at age 8 with her aunt, Mrs. Mary Jenkins, a noted music teacher in Rock Hill, S.C. Nell graduated from Greensboro Senior High School (now Grimsley) in 1932. In 1936, Nell received the Bachelor of Music in Piano at Greensboro College. Nell continued her own musical education at the Juilliard and Peabody Institutes of Music as well as through master lessons with renowned organists.
Nell became the organist at First Presbyterian Church while still in college and served for five years. She met her future husband, Lucas Clarence Abels, by inviting him to join the church choir. Luke and Nell married in 1944 and were married for 44 years until his death in 1988.
From 1944 to 1959, Nell was the Minister of Music at West Market Street Methodist Church. In 1963, she returned to West Market as organist. Nell retired from West Market in 1993 after 45 years of dedicated service.
Throughout the years, Nell also taught piano to hundreds of children and adults in her music room at 1101 Country Club Drive where she lived until 1999. Nell was a member of the Euterpe Club for over 60 years holding many offices, including that of president from 1976-1978. In April, 1987, she received the Euterpe Club's Award of Merit. In June 1999, Nell was honored with the Greensboro Music Academy's Community Citizen's Award. In 1995, the Alumnae Association of Greensboro College presented Nell with the Distinguished Alumnae Award. Nell was a member of the Peter Doub Society, and established the Nell Davis Abels Organ Scholarship at Greensboro College.
Nell belonged to the Greensboro, North Carolina, and National Music Teachers' Associations. She was a former member of the Piedmont Chapter of the American Guild of Organists where she was dean in 1951. She was a member of the Symphony Guild, the Rachel Caldwell Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and a former member of Children of the Confederacy.
She is survived by her daughter, Julia Abels Sypher and husband, Dr. Robert V. Sypher, Jr.; five grandchildren, Julia Reid Simons and her husband, Mike, Ellen Douglas Hartzoge, Elizabeth Fleming Sypher, Alexandra VanCleve Sypher, and Lucas Clarence Abels, III; and one great-grandson, Lucas William Simons. Other surviving family members include daughter-in-law, Susan Abels Lilly (John); brother, John Davis, Jr. and his wife, Anne; six nephews, Dr. John Davis, III, Paul Davis (Gaye), Dr. Jim Davis, Chris Davis, Peter Davis (Barbara), and Dr. Byron Abels, Jr.; sister-in-law, Elizabeth Abels; and several cousins.
Her son, Lucas Clarence Abels, Jr. predeceased her.
The family will receive friends from 4 until 6 p.m. Saturday, December 13, at Hanes-Lineberry Funeral Home, 515 N. Elm St.
The family wishes to express its appreciation to Mrs. Joann Jeffries, Nell's wonderful caretaker since 1956 and to Rose Hill, her caregiver at Abbotswood.
Memorials may be made to the Music Department of West Market Street United Methodist Church, the Music Department of Greensboro College, or to the Nell Davis Abels Organ Scholarship Fund at Greensboro College.
Online condolences may be made at www.mem.com