Rosalie Bryant Neilson passed away on June 11, 2010 at the age of 91. She died peacefully in her sleep at the home she shared with her younger daughter, Martha Bryant Neilson, in Madison, Mississippi.
Born in Water Valley, Mississippi on June 23, 1918, Rosalie inherited a keen sense of humor from her father, a love of knowledge from her mother, and a wonderful musical talent from both of them. In the early 1920s, her family moved to Oxford where she was very active in the choral music department of University High School and occasionally sang with the Ole Miss dance band, The Mississippians, while she was still in high school. While attending Ole Miss, she was the girl singer with The Mississippians on a regular basis and also sang with the Herbie Holmes Orchestra, a well known professional dance band. She was a member of Kappa Delta Sorority, accompanied for voice lessons, and, in a trio with her future sister-in-law, Ninnabel Neilson (Haney), and Ninnabel’s cousin, Rose Rowland (Roseborough), won Freshman Talent Night singing her arrangement of a medley of “Moonglow”, “Me and the Moon”, and “Blue Moon”. Decades later, Rosalie was elected to membership in the Ole Miss Jazz Musicians Hall of Fame in recognition of her work as a jazz musician.
Rosalie loved her family and friends, music and dancing, her country and the flag, and Oxford and her church. During her 72-year membership in First Presbyterian Church, she worked with her circle, sang in the choir, served as interim choir director at one point, provided food and served meals for church functions, and performed numerous other services. In addition to her church work, Rosalie was also quite busy in community activities. She was a Girl Scout troop leader, an Oxford Pilgrimage hostess and singer, a University High School Grand Reunion planner for her class and a grade school room mother for many years. She was an active participant in her sorority alum organization, accompanied town singing groups on many occasions sang with the Oxford–University Community Chorus, and helped provide musical skits and other special programs for civic organizations and fund raisers.
Rosalie was preceded in death by her parents, Addie Pannell and John Oliver Bryant; son, David Glenn Neilson, III; former husband, David Glenn Neilson, Jr.; brother and sister-in-law, Roy and Kitty Bryant of California; sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Ninnabel Neilson and Harold Eugene Haney; and dear friends Edna Shellabarger, Martha Gooch Gardner, Rose Rowland Roseborough, Martha “Provy” Lott Bennett, Al Fenger, Willie Marine Wilson, and Jim Watkins.
She is survived by daughter and her husband, Rosalyn Neilson Perry and Bill Butler of Thayne, Wyoming and Dewey, Arizona; daughter, Martha Bryant Neilson of Madison, Mississippi; former son-in-law, Ed Perry, of Oxford; granddaughter, Martha Perry Smith, of Madison, Mississippi; granddaughter and her husband, Melissa Perry and Keith Dooley, of Murray, Kentucky; niece and her husband, Marty Haney and S.H. Dees, of Ocean Springs, Mississippi; nephew and his wife, Hal and Carol Butler Haney, of Oxford; niece and nephews, Margaret Bryant Lyons, Gene Bryant, and John Bryant, all of California; great-grandchildren, Olivia Bryant Dooley, of Murray, Kentucky, and Landon Perry Smith, of Madison, Mississippi; and her best friend of over eight decades, Ruby Prichard Russell, and her husband, Russ Russell, of Oxford.
The funeral service will be held at First Presbyterian Church, Oxford, on Tuesday, June 15, 2010 at 2:00 P.M. followed by a graveside service at Oxford Memorial Cemetery. Visitation will be held at Waller Funeral Home, Oxford, from 5:00 P.M. until 7:00 P.M. on Monday, June 14, 2010.
The family has requested that expressions of sympathy in Mrs. Neilson’s memory be made to the Music Fund or Debt Reduction Fund of First Presbyterian Church, 924 Van Buren Avenue, Oxford, Mississippi 38655 or to the American Cancer Society, 1800 W. Main Street, Tupelo, Mississippi, 38801.