The light of this world shines less brightly with the passing of Frances Barton Nutt, a few days shy of her 93rd birthday. Although she was born in Arkansas and died in Arkansas, the life-long Razorback called Lamar home for over 40 years where she raised her family, faithfully served her church, attended an unfathomable number of ball games, band and choir concerts, played (an awful lot of) bridge, all while becoming a renowned elementary school educator of southwestern Missouri.
Frances Barton was born August 31, 1928, at the old McDonald Farm outside Charleston, Arkansas, to Earl and Faye (McDonald) Barton. The second of five children, she is preceded in death by her parents, her feisty older brother Nelson, her sassy sister Sarah, and her special brother Jerry. Her husband and perfect complement of 65 years, Hugh Lynn Nutt, and her beloved granddaughter Krista Ann Bunney, also preceded her in death.
She is survived by her loving baby sister Margaret (Bakersfield, CA); her devoted daughter Linda Carlson (Alan) of Mayflower, AR; son Lane Nutt (Cheryl) of Bolivar, MO; and son Stephen Nutt (Rick Morris) of Orcutt, CA. She is also survived by grandsons Kyle (Renee) and Lynn (Kara), and granddaughters Jessica, Jennifer (Phil), and Jaclyn, as well as great-granddaughters Briar, Abigail Frances, and a soon-to-arrive great grandson Nutt. Her fingerprint can be found on an endless list of devoted nieces and nephews stretching from coast to coast; as she would say "many more than you can shake a stick at."
Immediately after her 18th birthday, Frances was off to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville to study home economics, without her father's blessing. Backed with an under-the-table loan from her favorite Uncle Byrd, it was the first of many times her feistiness proved her father wrong. She carried her flute with the marching band and was a founding member of the Tau Beta Sigma Band Sorority, serving as its first president. She also served as president of Carnall Hall where she lived and learned for four years. Shortly after blowing up the chemistry lab, she met Lynn Nutt at the Baptist Student Union; the ground shook. (Accounts differ it that was from the explosion or their meeting.)
Fresh off the cover of the March 1950 national publication What's New In Home Economics
and armed with her Bachelor of Science degree, Frances set out to serve as a home demonstration agent in a multitude of little hollers and burgs throughout Arkansas. The two were reunited upon Lynn's return from the Pacific after a second stint in the military and were married on December 21, 1951.
Temporarily shifting their allegiance, Hugh and Fran moved to Missouri and furthered their careers with the University of Missouri extension service in Iron, Madison, and St. Francois counties. While living in Ironton, they were blessed with Linda (1955), Lane (1956), and Stephen (1960).
Upon moving to Lamar in 1963, Fran changed her focus to education. In 1966, she was hired to re-establish the kindergarten program in Lamar that had been on a six-year hiatus. There, she undertook the daily task of preparing hundreds of young minds for the first grade. Never willing to sit still, she completed her Master of Science (1970) from Pittsburg State University, shifted her attention to third graders, and immediately set her sights on additional education. She completed her Education Specialist Degree (1972) with an emphasis in learning disabilities from Pittsburg State University. By 1979, she had finally amassed enough knowledge to make it to the sixth grade where her students likely taught her more than she ever taught them. Mrs Nutt, as she was known, was recognized as the Lamar Teacher of the Year in 1986 and was named the Southwest District Educator of the Year in 1996 by the Missouri State Teachers Association. After 30 years, she retired from teaching, leaving a life-long legacy of learning. Combined with her teaching career, her devotion as a children's Sunday School teacher, and her involvement with the additional youth programs at Lamar's First Baptist Church, she shaped and molded hundreds upon hundreds of young minds. As a small token of her vested interest, she placed a personal note and a silver dollar in the hand of every student she ever taught upon their graduation from high school.
After retirement and a move to the Baptist Home in Ozark, MO, her passion for the University of Arkansas was re-ignited. She was instrumental in saving the University's first women's dormitory from demolition. She formed and led a coalition of over 2,300 former residents in raising funds to ensure their home away from home was never lost. Carnall Hall now serves as the University's on-campus hotel and houses the hotel management and hospitality majors, a program under the former College of Home Economics she so dearly loved. In recognition of her commitment to the University, she received the Distinguished Alumni Service Award in 2007 and was inducted as a prestigious Tower of Old Main in 2019. Together, their endowment of the Hugh Lynn and Frances Barton Nutt Memorial Scholarship will perpetually support the extension service programs of the Agriculture and Home Economics colleges, the Alumni Association, Carnall Hall, and the Mighty Razorback Marching Band. Their legacy continues forever as they are once again reunited to "Call the Hogs." Wooooo. Pig. Sooie!!!
Whether known as Lynn and Frances (Arkansas), or Hugh and Fran (Missouri), or Mom and Dad, or Gran and Gramps, they formed an undeniable force to be reckoned with. A small memorial service at the Springfield Veterans Memorial Cemetery will precede burial where Fran will be laid to rest alongside her loving Hughie so that they may live for eternity in God's loving embrace. Contributions may be directed to Daniel Funeral Home in support of the youth programs at the First Baptist Church of Lamar. Condolences may be shared at www.danielfuneralhome.net.
One of Mom's favorite teaching stories was The Little Engine That Could and her "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can" attitude for overcoming obstacles in life. Once the little engine pulled the heavy freight train over the top of the mountain, she cried out "I thought I could, I though I could, I thought I could."
Mom always knew she could....
She lived. She loved. She laughed.
She taught. She inspired. She believed.
Put simply, she could. But more importantly, she did.
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