Nelda Chadwick Schultz



December 19, 1940 – May 1, 2024

Nelda Chadwick Schultz, legendary educator of herself and everyone around her, died peacefully at home, surrounded by loved ones, on May 1, 2024, at age 83. Surprising absolutely no one who knew her, this transpired very much on her own terms. 

Born the youngest of four children in Nauvoo, Alabama, on Dec. 19, 1940, to the late Ruby Kilgore Chadwick and Johnnie Elias Chadwick, Nelda Joan Chadwick carried fires of independence and learning and justice that lit up every room she entered. Her life traced a path of service, self-improvement, and doing the right thing, as well as a matchless penchant for impromptu naps in the sun. In her wake are endowed scholarships that she conceived, improved school systems, camps for children with cancer, and countless loving fans. She was the living embodiment of her favorite phrase: “Think of the possibilities!” 

The first in her family to attend college, she graduated with a B.A. in speech and drama from Samford University (then Howard College) in 1961. In 1962, she earned an M.A. in counseling from the University of Alabama, after which she joined the staff of her mentor, the late Sarah Healy Fenton, Dean of Women. True to form, she was integrally involved in a time of great change: 1963 was the year that Vivian Malone and James Hood desegregated the university.

While working at the university, Nelda met the love of her life, Ken Schultz. They met in Mar. of 1965, got engaged in Jul. and were married in Jan. 1966. For the next 58 years they had what Nelda described as a long and happy life together, starting in Atlanta, Georgia, where Nelda worked as the Assistant Dean of Women at Emory University and all three of their children were born.

Nelda and Ken subsequently moved to Ken’s hometown of Foley, Alabama., where Nelda became the first woman and first Republican ever elected to the Baldwin County School Board. As a school board member, she independently spearheaded many significant changes in the school system, all to benefit the children she cared so much about. Nelda was appointed by the governor of Alabama to the Council of 21, a select group of outstanding leaders who advised the governor on educational matters. In 1986, she was honored as Baldwin County’s Career Woman of the Year. 

After moving to Memphis in 1988, Nelda decided to pursue a Doctor of Education degree at Memphis State University while working in the Office of the President. Her degree was put to good use after another move to Dallas, Texas, where she ran an art in education nonprofit, then served as an executive leader for a personnel search firm for independent schools. After retirement, she and Ken moved a final time to be near children and grandchildren in Brentwood, Tennessee., where she remained active working the polls, volunteering with the Tennessee Performing Arts Association, and always engaging with her local church community. 

In addition to her devoted husband Ken, Nelda is survived by their three children, Heidi Schultz Adams, John Chadwick (Chad) Schultz and his wife, Cathy Schultz; Christopher Paul Schultz and his wife, Allison Korn; and their three beloved grandchildren, Henry Adams, Mason Adams, and Stephen Schultz.

A Celebration of Life Memorial Service for Nelda will be held at two o'clock in the afternoon on Fri., May 31, 2024, First Presbyterian Church, 195 E. Berry Ave. at Highway 59, Foley, Alabama 36535. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that remembrances be made in the form of contributions to Nelda’s church home, All Saints Presbyterian Church, 101 Creekside Crossing, Suite 1700 PMB 212, Brentwood Tennessee 37027,; or to the Sarah L. Healy Scholarship Fund, University of Alabama, PO Box 870101, Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35487.