Nelsie McFarland Bershen passed away peacefully at her home on June 8, 2023. She was born on January 3, 1932, in Banks, AR. After graduating high school, she went to work for the telephone company at Camp Chaffe in Fort Smith, AR. She met Jim Bershen (a.k.a. Mr. B.) who was based there as a sergeant in the Army. They were married in 1954 and lived in Shreveport, LA, until they moved to Monroe, LA, in 1957 when Jim joined Scott Truck & Tractor. They were married for 69 years.
Nelsie attended Northeast Louisiana University where she took art, her passion, and English to help her children with their studies. She was a member of St. Pauls’ United Methodist Church where she was active in the United Methodist Women’s’ group and taught Sunday school classes. She and Mr. B. traveled all over the world and loved telling stories of their adventures. She had a gift for decorating and opened an antique store, High Cotton, with two of her daughters. They traveled throughout the U.S and to Paris, France, to find antiques and treasures for their customers.
Nelsie and Jim attended numerous charitable functions and many times Nelsie would be included on the local best-dressed list. On one such occasion, a columnist wrote, “Nelsie stole the spotlight everywhere she went that evening. She was Katherine Hepburn made over. Ultra-sophisticated she was with her hair knotted on her head. Her leading man was husband Jim.”
Nelsie spent countless hours keeping her grandchildren, reading and singing to them and teaching them how to draw and paint. Her grandson says that she had a song for everything as almost every conversation led to a song she would remember. Her father sang quite often, and she carried on that tradition. She was an avid reader and a great cook. Her grandchildren loved to come for Sunday fried chicken and her friend, Sally Hines, for her chess pie. As good of a cook as she was, she would prefer to paint. Her good friend, Jean Green, gave her a plaque that is still in her kitchen and her children can all recite: He who eats here, must trust to fate, to please his palate, and fill his plate. Sometimes there is, sometimes there ain’t, I am no cook, I like to paint.
Nelsie loved spending time on her farm in Arkansas with her husband, children, grandchildren and her sisters and brothers and their families. Being on the farm gave her great joy rivaled only by the love and dedication she had for her grandchildren. In her granddaughters’ words, my grandmother grew up on a farm in Southern Arkansas and became an accomplished artist, an antiques’ curator, and a local fashion icon. She taught me how to cook, sew, paint and to never stop trying to better myself. I am so proud to be her granddaughter and will carry the lessons she taught me all my life.
Nelsie is preceded in death by her parents, Auburn and Hattie McFarland; her four brothers, Curtis, Ernest, A.J. and Roy Herbert, her three sisters, Aubrey Jerine McFarland, Christine Munford and Dean Sweatman.
She is survived by her husband, Jim Bershen; sister, Bobbie Whisenhumt; children: Kay Barham (Emmett), Cheryl Metzger (Jake), Shawn Morgan (Cobb), Nancy Bershen (Cole Smelser) and Jimmy Bershen; grandchildren: Mary Kathryn Barham, Anna Barham, Gardner Barham, Tyler Metzger (Jennifer), Charlotte Metzger, Matt Minninger (fiancé Taylor Sullivan), Bershen Minninger, and Auburn Morgan; and great grandchild, Mason Metzger.
The family would like to thank Alberta Simmons, Angie Lewis, Jackie Harris and Premier Hospice for their compassion and care.
A private family service will be held at Frazer’s Funeral Home in Warren, AR.
Memorials may be given to St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Monroe, LA, or a charity of your choice.