Pauline (Wright) Nelson


(Feb. 13, 2004)

Pauline (Wright) Nelson died Friday, Feb. 13 in Cupertino, Calif., after a long illness. She was 92.

She was born Nov. 12, 1911, in Dallas, Texas, daughter of Byrdie and Paul Wright. She had been a resident of The Forum at Rancho San Antonio in Cupertino since 1992 and a resident of Los Altos Hills, Calif., for over 35 years.

She was preceded in death by her husband of 35 years, Richard B. Nelson, formerly of Powell.

She was an emerita professor of Speech and Communications Studies at San Francisco State University from 1966 to 1977. She received her Bachelor of Oratory from Dallas Academy of Speech and Drama in 1933; her B.A. in Comparative Literature from Southern Methodist University in 1939; her M.A. in English Literature from the University of Arizona in 1949; and her Ph.d. in Speech and Drama from Stanford University in 1965.

Her love of speech and drama began as early as the late 1930s when she was a familiar name in the Southwest on book review and lecture circuits. During those years, she presented over 1,000 one-woman shows. Her most memorable book review was of "Gone with the Wind," which she reviewed so often that the author, Margaret Mitchell, wrote her a note of gratitude for helping to make the book a success.

The Council of Parents and Teachers awarded her a loving cup as "First Lady of the Oral Book Review in the Nation" in 1938. During those years she also organized the Dallas Teenage theater where she directed seven to 10 plays each year. She discovered her love of classroom teaching in the 1950s at the University of Arizona, Pacific Lutheran University and San Jose State. In 1966, she became a professor at San Francisco State where she taught in the Departments of Theater, Speech and Communication Studies and Education. In 1977, she initiated an oral interpretation festival that students from some 50 colleges and high schools attend each year. Her colleagues dedicated the festival to her and named it the Pauline Nelson Northern California Oral Interpretation Festival.

In her spare time, she loved to read, travel and fish at the family cabin in northwest Wyoming.

Survivors include her daughter, Anna and son-in-law, Ed Ghandour, of Sonoma County, Calif.; grandchildren Tamara (Michael) Kleinberg of Denver, Colo., and Naomi Ghandour of Sunnvale, Calif.; her nephew, Dick Nelson and wife Jeanne of Powell and Andy, Ty (Brandi) and Alexandra; her niece, Julie Sullivan and husband John and Johnathan of Canadagua, N.Y.; and her sister-in-law, Elsie Nelson of Powell.

Friends are invited to attend the burial at Alta Mesa Cemetery in Palo Alto, Calif., Friday, Feb. 27 at 1 p.m. and a celebration of her life in the Living Room at The Forum of Rancho San Antonio at 2 p.m. on the same date.

Donations in her memory may be made to the Northwest College Foundation.