Nell Perry Earnest Dalton

A Very Special Story

I was pleased to hear from you and to read of your activity. Your letter stirred fond memories and inspired me to delve into notes and papers that I had saved from my years at the University of Alabama. Those were exciting years to me. Having married when I was but sixteen, I had not even a high school diploma when I was widowed at forty-six. Within months of my husband’s death, I had earned my GED and enrolled in Walker College. Two years later I was a student at the University of Alabama and, to provide housing and income, I worked as housemother at Theta Chi fraternity.

I remained in those endeavors, finding great joy in both, until I had earned a Bachelor of Arts in 1973 and a Master’s in 1974. During my years as a wife and mother, my sole intellectual outlet had been through the church (no television, no telephone for much of the time, very little transportation). I studied the Bible; I enrolled in Bible study courses. An avid student, I was tutored by some learned pastors and teachers. Naturally, when I reached the University of Alabama, I enrolled in a class in religion. This class, with Dr. Pat Green, was the most stimulating, thought-provoking class I had yet encountered. Dr. Green gave greater meaning to the biblical knowledge I already possessed. (For example: the story of the parting of the Red Sea is not just a story of a miracle, but a story exemplifying the power of faith—putting one foot in front of the other in a situation that seems impossible.)

So many years older than every other person in the class, I was gratified that Dr. Green accepted me and valued my life experiences and opinions. I loved the class, my classmates and Dr. Green. Other classes and other professors in the department followed: Dr. Weinberg’s class was among them. Through all the classes, as well as the entire university experience, I gained personal comfort, breadth, and a greater appreciation of all faiths.

My life was further enriched after graduation when I was able to share with other, younger people whose consciousness, too, was raised. I taught a class in Religious Studies at Walker College and worked as a counselor there. Later I designed and directed a program for Bevill State that sought to ease the transition for homemakers into the mainstream of society.

After my retirement, I remarried. My husband, James Dalton, and I presently live in DeFuniak Springs, Florida, but I make frequent visits to my home in Goodsprings.

(Written for my mother, Nell Perry Earnest Dalton, and with her collaboration, by Brenda Cummings July 4, 2003)

the UA President's Mansion

Shown here: UA President’s Mansion

Graduation: 1973
Degree: Religious Studies
Current Location: DeFuniak Springs, FL