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Nancy Ann (Nellor) McDonald, a community leader and civil rights advocate, died Oct. 24, 2023, in Tulsa, Okla., at age 87. 
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John Neal, All-Black Towns, Black Towns, Oklahoma Black Towns, Historic Black Towns, Gary Lee, M. David Goodwin, James Goodwin, Ross Johnson, Sam Levrault, Kimberly Marsh, African American News, Black News, African American Newspaper, Black Owned Newspaper, The Oklahoma Eagle, The Eagle, Black Wall Street, Tulsa Race Massacre, 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

Nancy Ann (Nellor) McDonald, a community leader and civil rights advocate, died Oct. 24, 2023, in Tulsa, Okla., at age 87. 

  • McDonald’s dedicated service extended beyond the education sector. She served in community organizations in the arts, child and teen welfare, HIV/AIDS, human rights, racial equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and women’s empowerment.
Gary Lee, M. David Goodwin, James Goodwin, Ross Johnson, Sam Levrault, Kimberly Marsh, African American News, Black News, African American Newspaper, Black Owned Newspaper, The Oklahoma Eagle, The Eagle, Black Wall Street, Tulsa Race Massacre, 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, Viola Ford Fletcher, Lessie Benningfield Randle, Hughes Van Ellis

OBITUARY

The Oklahoma Eagle


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McDonald was born in Beemer, Neb. on June 4, 1936, to Floyd and Marguerite Nellor. She is survived by her husband Joe McDonald, 90; brother Howard Nellor, 85; sister Sharlene Clatanoff, 83; her four children, JoElyn Newcomb, Paul McDonald, Jason McDonald, and Morva McDonald; her eight grandchildren, Amelia, Joseph, Hannah, Francesca, Floyd, Ava, Simon, and Sadie along with the Jones family: Zack and Chantal and their two children, Jason and Sarah.  

A graduate of the University of Nebraska, McDonald began her career as a medical technologist. Joseph McDonald and she were married in 1957 in Omaha. They lived in San Bernardino, Calif.; Yalova, Turkey; San Antonio, Texas; and Tampa, Fla., before settling in Tulsa in 1966.  

While her children were growing up in Tulsa, McDonald’s interests turned to education and youth development. As a leader in desegregating schools in Tulsa, she helped recruit families to Burroughs Elementary, which led to the voluntary integration program at Booker T. Washington High School and Carver Middle School. In 1975, she began a career with Tulsa Public Schools that lasted until 1990. She was invited to participate in the White House Symposium on Education and Corporate Engagement, now known as “Partners in Education.” McDonald wrote the guidelines for Partners in Education groups that were published as a book on involving community volunteers in public schools. Later in life, her volunteer efforts continued to support Tulsa Public Schools, especially the schools in north Tulsa, including Monroe Demonstration Academy.  

McDonald’s dedicated service extended beyond the education sector. She served in community organizations in the arts, child and teen welfare, HIV/AIDS, human rights, racial equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and women’s empowerment. She was the first woman on the boards of Tulsa Boys’ Home and the Thornton Family YMCA. She helped found Children’s Consortium; the Gay and Lesbian Fund of Tulsa; Leadership Tulsa; Living Arts; Tulsa CARES; Tulsa Global Alliance; and Tulsa Reaches OUT. She served on the Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma board for 16 years, including five years as president, leading the Council through the tragedy of the Camp Scott murders in 1977. When one of her daughters came out as a lesbian in 1987, McDonald founded the Tulsa Chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), the first PFLAG chapter in Oklahoma. She went on to serve the organization regionally and nationally, including as national president from 1996 to 1998, during which time 200 chapters opened around the country and the organization officially added transgender people to its mission. PFLAG was the first national LGBTQ+ organization to be trans-inclusive. McDonald also testified to Congress to defeat the Defense of Marriage Act and helped pass legislation to prevent discrimination and protect LGBTQ+ students from bullying.  

McDonald was the recipient of many awards for her social justice service, including the All Souls Unitarian Centennial Award; the Pathfinder Award; the naming of the Nancy and Joe McDonald Rainbow Library in the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center, and inductee into the Tulsa Hall of Fame.  

See Also
All-Black Towns, Black Towns, Oklahoma Black Towns, Historic Black Towns, Gary Lee, M. David Goodwin, James Goodwin, Ross Johnson, Sam Levrault, Kimberly Marsh, John Neal, African American News, Black News, African American Newspaper, Black Owned Newspaper, The Oklahoma Eagle, The Eagle, Black Wall Street, Tulsa Race Massacre, 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

The McDonalds spent their retirement years traveling and visiting their large family around the country. McDonald’s most cherished time was the time she spent baking cookies with her grandchildren, in person and online. At her request, those attending the reception after her memorial service are invited to bring homemade cookies to share. (But please, she said, no store-bought cookies!)  

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in McDonald’s honor to Partners in Education. The celebration of her life will be held at All Souls Unitarian Church, 2952 S. Peoria Ave, on Nov. 12 at 4 p.m. A reception – with homemade cookies – will follow. 

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