Nellie B. James

Nellie B. James, long time piano and organ teacher, died November 25, 2022, at the age of 85. She was born July 14, 1937, in Pasadena, California, and she was a resident of Amarillo for the past 47 years.

A Memorial Service will be held at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, December 17, 2022, at First Church of the Nazarene, 5201 South Soncy Road, Amarillo, Texas.

Mrs. James attended elementary schools in Tularosa and Roswell, New Mexico. She graduated Abilene High School in 1955 and attended Pasadena Nazarene College. She studied music theory at Ohio State University and taught piano and organ while still in attendance there. She left the university in 1963 and continued teaching in Ohio until she moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1968. In Nashville she was involved in the southern gospel music industry from 1968 to 1975. She moved to Amarillo in 1975 and taught piano here for more than 30 years.

The daughter of a Nazarene Pastor, she was a lifelong member of the Church of the Nazarene, and member of Amarillo First Church of the Nazarene since 1975. Nellie and Ronnie were involved in the music programs of the church.

Nellie and Ronnie opened their home to exchange students Ulrike Rockstroh (Germany) and Monica Oberg (Sweden). Both girls loved Nellie and adopted her as a “mom.”

Nellie excelled at teaching beginning piano students and developed her own four-step program where students learned syllables and rhythm. She was able to transfer to many of her students the ability she had to transpose to any key “on the fly.” A published music author, she was also a member of the National League of American Pen Women.

She will long be remembered by her students as well as her family and friends.

Nellie was preceded in death by her parents, Estel and Ruby (Wasson) Bonine, and two sisters, Mildred Litchfield, and Lucille Murdock.

She is survived by her husband of 45 years, Ronald James; her sons, Terry Barker and wife Diane, of Allen, OK, Paul Barker of Lubbock, Texas, Lynn James and wife Tosha of Spring Branch, Texas; a daughter Kate Ellis of San Diego, California; grandchildren Jaye Herndon, Todd Barker, Julia Ellis, Jerah Fisher, Jenna Brown, Sabrina Merrit, and Krista Lara, and seven great-grandchildren.

1 Comment

  1. Rachel Lynn Roach

    I have many fond memories of time spent with Nellie, as I and other cousins visited almost every summer for many years. Together we spent hours browsing Amarillo’s antique shops. Nellie was a fine bargain spotter and especially loved jewelry, in particular turquoise bracelets, necklaces, and rings.
    She was a fashionable dresser, too!
    Once or twice, Nellie gave us a brief piano concert in her home, a lovely experience as she was a talented and skilled musician.
    Rest in Peace, Nellie. I will miss you.

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