Nancy Dee (Lester) Elayer died April 28, 2018, at her home in Piedmont, Mo. She was born Aug. 21, 1918, in Detroit, Mich., to J.D. and Leonie B. (Brown) Lester. Her father had moved from Kentucky to Detroit to work during World War I. After the war, they moved back to their hometown of Princeton, Ky., where Nancy and her brother and three sisters grew up.
She attended grade school and high school at St. Vincent Academy in Morganfield, Ky. She was a very accomplished pianist and also played the violin. She attended St. Vincent for several years on a musical scholarship. After graduating high school, she attended Murray State University, graduating from there with a teaching degree in 1939. Her first teaching job after graduation was in Winona, Mo. She said the first time she saw the hills of Missouri, she thought they were the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. Her second teaching job was at Patterson, Mo. A city girl at heart, her plans were to teach one year at Patterson and then return to Princeton. Those plans changed when she met and later married Robert J. Elayer of Patterson on March 7, 1942. He preceded her in death on April 30, 1986.
Nancy taught school for almost 40 years. She taught history and music at the high school level for a few years, but the majority of her career was spent at Greenville High School teaching business classes – typing, shorthand and bookkeeping. She was very proud of teaching so many young women skills that allowed them to go on to have good jobs and careers. She was also credited by one male student with saving his life in Vietnam. He told her the typing skills she taught him kept him off the front lines and at a desk while he was in service. Nancy always said she couldn’t imagine doing anything except being a teacher and she wouldn’t change one thing about her career.
Upon retirement in the late 1970s, Nancy enjoyed genealogical research and in 1986 joined the Daughters of the American Revolution, Henry Whitener Chapter of Fredericktown, Mo. She was also a member of Alpha Delta Kappa teacher’s sorority, and the Association of Retired Teachers. A lifelong member of the Catholic Church, she was a member of St. Catherine of Siena in Piedmont for over 75 years. Her hobbies included reading, crossword puzzles, and playing the piano. She looked forward every year to attending the Greenville Alumni Banquet and in 2011 was honored as their alumnus of the year. Mrs. Elayer was affectionately called “Granny” by her Greenville students. The nickname, given about 50 years ago, came about when after being asked to go on a senior trip with one class, she replied, “I’m too old for that.”
In addition to her parents and husband, she was preceded in death by one daughter, Marian Lester “Firetop” White; a brother, J.D. Lester; and three sisters, Beverly Smith, Estelle Kirkpatrick, and Jeanelle Lester.
Survivors include, one son, Joseph Daffron “Boogie” Elayer of Maui, Hawaii; two daughters, Nan L. “Doll” Elayer of Poplar Bluff, and Susan Dee “Teet” Elayer of Patterson; one son-in-law, David White of Cape Girardeau; three grandsons, James David “J.D.” White of Jackson, Joseph Lester White of St. Louis, and Matthew Moultrie Elayer of Maui; one granddaughter, Caitlin Marianna Batton of Piedmont; four great-grandchildren, Robert White, Rayme Batton, Auden Batton, and Ryder Elayer; a host of nieces and nephews, lifelong friends and former students.
Visitation will be held Friday, May 4, starting at 4:30 p.m. at Ruegg Funeral Home in Piedmont, Mo. A memorial service will be held Saturday, May 5, at 10 a.m., also at the Ruegg Chapel in Piedmont, with Pastor Mick Moffitt officiating. A funeral mass will be held Saturday, May 5, immediately following the memorial service, at St. Catherine of Siena in Piedmont with Father Dan Hertz officiating. Her cremated remains will be interred at Patterson Cemetery.
The family has requested that memorials be sent to the Greenville R-II School Foundation. They may be mailed to Greenville R-II School Foundation, P.O. Box 320, Greenville, MO 63944. Please note on envelope or in memo “Elayer Memorial.”