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Nellie Mae Abernathy age 91, of Kansas City, Missouri passed away peacefully on March 24, 2023 at University Health Skilled Nursing Facility Lakewood of Natural Causes.
Nellie was born in Clinton Missouri, January 1, 1932, to Mr. LeeOtis and Mrs. Ollie Johnson-Coppage, and she was the second oldest of the six children. Nellie’s Siblings: Rozetta Coppage-Boxter, Margret Coppage, Shirley Coppage-Ford, Anita Coppage-Abernathy and Victor Coppage and they all preceded her in death. Her oldest son, Larry R. Abernathy also preceded her in death, and Great-Grandson, Jawuan Webb, who passed away in 1996 from Sickle Cell.
Nellie was a graduate from R.T. Coles in Kansas City, Missouri. She was baptized and loved going to church. Her last church home was First Baptist of Kansas City at 100 Red Bridge Road, which she attended faithfully, until her health failed. She loved playing Bingo, watching the Royals, hosting, and going to family gatherings.
Nellie M. Abernathy was married to James Edward Abernathy who preceded her in death, and to that union three sons were born. Larry R. Abernathy (deceased); James R. Abernathy; and Tyrone J. Abernathy. Nellie has six grandchildren: Lamont Abernathy, Paris Abernathy, Staci Davis, James R. Abernathy Jr., Damon .L Abernathy, and Garrond Abernathy. She has 13 Great-Grandchildren and a host of cousins, nephews, nieces, extended family, and friends.
Nellie started her journey of becoming a cosmetologist, after working at Ronnie’s Hair Salon as a Beautician’s Assistant for 12 years, keeping the salon clean. With her son’s encouragement, she decided to go to school and become a licensed cosmetologist. Therefore, she attended Aline Jefferson Beauty School, owned by Aline Jefferson. She graduated and received her Cosmetology License from the Missouri State Board of Cosmetology in 1968. She became the first African American Hair Stylist to work
at Adler’s Chain of Salon’s located in downtown Kansas City for years. Nellie moved to Adler’s Salon on the Landing and finally ended up at Adler’s in Overland Park, Kansas. Before relocating to Northern California, Nellie worked in several other salons in the Kansas City area. Nellie continued her cosmetology career in Palo Alto, California after receiving her California Cosmetology License. She worked there for over 10 years, then she retired.
Nellie moved back to Kansas City to help sick family members and she maintained her cosmetology work with the local and state cosmetology organizations. In 1968, Nellie became an active member of the Young Progressors#1 President, Dr. Wanda J. Nelson. She also joined the State and National Organization, Associated Hairdressers & Cosmetologists of the State of Missouri, and the National Beauty Culturists League in 1969. Nellie received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree from the National Institute of
Cosmetology in Washington, D.C. She spent many years working to increase the organization’s memberships and kept sharpening her skills and taking advantage of all educational opportunities. Under the leadership of Dr. Wanda .J Nelson, she served as Sargent of Arms/Parliamentarian, held several other state offices, leadership positions, and won many local, state, and national awards. She was a Theta Nu Sigma National Sorority Member. Nellie was even named Western Central Queen at one of the conventions. She encouraged new and old cosmetologists to link up with the organizations to help empower themselves academically and professionally. She finally got one of her nieces to join (Annetta Vertreese), which brought her great joy and pride. When she returned to Kansas City, she stayed connected with her cosmetology organizations and upon death, she was an honorary member of Klassy Cosmetology connection, President, Teresa Miller and Associated Hairdressers and Cosmetology of the State of Missouri, President Lela Cartwright and a past member of National Beauty Culturist League.
Nellie was one of those persons you could never forget and now she resting peacefully in God’s Arms.
Memorial services will be held Saturday April 8, 2023, at 2:00pm at Heartland Cremation & Burial Society, located at 6113 Blue Ridge Blvd, Raytown, Missouri 64133 Phone # 816 313-1677.
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