“Make me a blessing. Make me a blessing. Out of my life, Let Jesus shine; make me a blessing to someone today.”
“Make Me a Blessing”- Luther Barnes
To know her was a blessing. Mrs. Nancy Caroline Granade Belser was born in her home in Chatom, Alabama, on August 9, 1927. She was the youngest of five children born to James Napoleon Granade, Sr. and Ethel Catherine King Granade. Her siblings were Jimmie Ethel Granade, James Granade, Jr., Joseph Granade, and Mary Catherine Moore.
Her father James was an attorney and president of the Bank of Chatom. Her mother Ethel was a musician and accomplished singer, who also started the first Sunday night program for children in Alabama. From both parents, she inherited a love of family, church, and her small town.
Mrs. Belser was eighteen years younger than her sister Mary Catherine. She was a surprise and unexpected blessing, who demonstrated an adventurous spirit from an early age. As a young girl, she often rode her horse down the hill to her grandparent’s house, followed by her dog, Josephine. She also would visit the neighbors and play with their children. From an early age, she knew she wanted to have a family of her own.
When Mrs. Belser was a teenager, she and her parents took a trip to Washington D.C. She was attending Sunday services at the Washington National Cathedral on December 7, 1941, when it was announced Pearl Harbor had been attacked. She recalled driving by the Japanese embassy as workers hurriedly disposed of documents. During Christmastime, German POW soldiers were held near Chatom, and she remembered hearing them singing Christmas carols. When her brothers enlisted in the military, she wrote to and received letters from them until both returned safely home. These experiences solidified a love for her country and its people, which she would carry for the rest of her life.
Even though she lived through the difficulties of World War II, it did not diminish her spirit of adventure. As the youngest child, she had the opportunity to attend the college of her choice. She chose Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, which she chose because she saw it in Life magazine, and it “sounded exciting.” She did not have any family or friends in the area, but she ventured on her own. She quickly made friends and was a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority. After finishing at Stephens, she went to Brunau College in Gainesville, Georgia. She graduated in 1948 with a degree in social studies, intending to be a teacher.
After graduation, it was time to find a job. It was then she heard about a small town in Florida called Bonifay that was looking for teachers. She came for an interview and fell in love with the town and teaching its children.
It was also at this time she also met a young lawyer and politician named Mr. Harvie Belser. They were introduced by Miss Mary Coleman, on top of the steps of the First Baptist Church. Within a year, they were engaged, and they married in June 1950. They were married for 36 years until he passed away in 1986.
Her dream for a family of her own came true when her oldest daughter Jennie Catherine was born in 1952. She was followed by Nancy Granade in 1953, Harvie Jordan Jr. in 1956, Holly Elizabeth in 1962 and Chauncey Lee in 1963. She took time away from teaching to focus on her family, her husband, and her church. When Chauncey began kindergarten, she returned to teaching at Bonifay Elementary School and taught mostly fourth grade until she retired in 1994.
In 1977, she began her favorite role when her grandson Jonathan Vara was born, and she became Grannie. Jon was soon followed by Jeff, Sam, Nancy, Tyler, Dustin, Jordan, Caroline, Joy, Jenna, Claire, Jessica, and Kevin. She faithfully attended their sporting events, award ceremonies, recitals, practices, and graduations. In 2007, she became a great-grandmother with the addition of Savannah, followed by Grant, Catherine, Hudson, Anna, Lexi, Graham, Brooklyn, James Tyler, Liam, Avalyn, and Cooper.
Throughout her life, she loved attending and being a part of her church. She enjoyed playing the piano in all her departments, participating in Vacation Bible School, GAs, Sunday School classes, and eventually with the senior adults. She also was an active member with the Bereavement Committee, serving meals and coordinating to make sure families were cared for and served.
Mrs. Belser was well-loved by those who knew her. She never met a stranger and was genuinely interested in learning about the people around her. She also rarely forgot birthdays, and she made it a point to call and wish a happy birthday to friends and family. She loved music, playing the piano and singing. She was kind and generous. She is remembered fondly by her students and coworkers as an encourager who loved people.
Mrs. Belser also leaves behind a legacy of prayer. She kept a prayer list and went through it daily, praying for her family, friends, people of the church, and the needs of the world. She called others to encourage them and let them know she was praying for them. Even though in her later years her health kept her from going to church, she continued to pray. Mrs. Belser loved Jesus dearly.
On July 7, 2019, Mrs. Nancy Belser passed away. It was a Sunday, her favorite day, around church time. She leaves behind five children, thirteen grandchildren, and thirteen great-children. In each of them, she leaves a love of music, a love of her country, a sense of adventure, a willingness to take chances and explore the unknown, a love of education, a desire to help people, and a deep commitment to family. While she may not be physically present anymore, her prayers and her love for the Lord remain with them.
Mrs. Belser lived the words of one of her favorite hymns, and she was truly a blessing to all who knew her.
Funeral services were held 10:00 AM Wednesday, July 10, 2019, at First Baptist Church Bonifay. Interment followed in the Bonifay Cemetery with Peel Funeral Home in charge of arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that contributions may be made to First Baptist Church’s Building the Future building fund, 311 North Waukesha Street, Bonifay, Florida 32425.