I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but to all them also that love his appearing.- 2 Timothy 4:7-8
JoAnn Smith Nelson’s journey began in Gurdon, Arkansas on November 21, 1958, to the late Sam and Marie Smith. She was one of sixteen children born and raised into this loving union. JoAnn was a 1977 graduate of Gurdon High School. At an early age, she accepted Jesus Christ at Baring Cross C.O.G.I.C. in Smithton, AR. She continued to serve the Lord; and, obtained her ordination at Bethel World Outreach Center in Nashville, TN. When she returned home (Gurdon, AR), she joined Kingdom Authority Christian Ministries, where she obtained her Minister’s License.
JoAnn was employed with General Motors Corporation for 34 years. During her tenure with GM, she also served as a Chaplain in which she thoroughly enjoyed. In 2013, she retired. Effective January 1, 2015, she was sworn in with the Arkadelphia City Board of Directors Ward 4. She served in that capacity for five years. She was a “voice” for the people she served. JoAnn volunteered at the Community Family and Enrichment Center and the Baptist Home Health Hospice.
She was a compassionate and caring person, full of joy; and, always giving to others. She loved to decorate and liven up a room with her decor touches and humorous yet straight forward personality. She enjoyed cooking and catering different dishes. She took pride in enjoying the "finer" things in life. Nice cars, clothes and her secret obsession for the love of all unique and fashionable designer shoes. Most of her luxuries she shared and gave to friends and family. She loved to empower women speaking a kind word to uplift them in any situation. She always had a big, bright smile that matched her huge heart. JoAnn was beautiful inside and out. She loved sowing into other lives and serving within multiple ministries. She cherished being a Mother to her precious children, Chanda L. Jessie and Phillip M. Jessie. God and her family was her life and legacy.
JoAnn gained her wings on February 22, 2020, at Baptist Health Medical Center, Little Rock, AR. She was a warrior indeed and had a servant’s heart even during her battle with a terminal illness.
Minister JoAnn Smith Nelson was preceded in death by her parents, the late Sam and Marie Smith; seven siblings, Edward Smith, Sam Smith, Jr., Leonard Osborne, Larry Smith, Gloria Dillard, Freddy Smith, and Eugene Osborne; also, two brothers-in-law, Charles Dillard, and Nathan Giles.
Her everlasting memory will continue to live in the hearts of her husband, James Doug Nelson, of Arkadelphia, AR; her children, Chanda L. Jessie and Phillip M. Jessie, both of Nashville, TN, Keith (Christi) Nelson, Jermaine (Veronica) Nelson, Jason (Tannea) Nelson, and Amanda Garrard, all of Arkadelphia, AR; three grandchildren, Jazmyne, Kayden, and Kennedi, all from Nashville, TN, and many other bonus grandchildren; seven siblings, Linda Giles, of Gurdon, AR, Bill (Nora) Smith, and Barbara (Augusta) Giles, both of Lansing, MI, Ben (Karen) Smith, of St. Louis, MO, Charles (Alicia) Smith, of Chester, VA, Franklin Smith, Johnny (Sallie) Smith and Shanta (Ralph) Bailey, all of Gurdon, AR, and a host of nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, other relatives and special friends in Michigan, Tennessee, and Texas.
Funeral services are under the direction of Mitchell Funeral Home in Arkadelphia, AR. Visitation will be Friday, February 28, 2020, at Mitchell Funeral Home from 12 noon- 4:00 P.M. Family and Friends hour will be at St. Paul A.M.E. Church in Arkadelphia from 6:00 P.M.-7:00 P.M. The Celebration of Life for Minister JoAnn Smith Nelson will be on Saturday, February 29, 2020, at 11:00 A.M. at Kingdom Authority Christian Ministries in Gurdon, AR where Rev. Quintin Radford is Pastor and eulogist. Minister Nelson will lie in state at the church 1 hour prior to funeral time. Burial and final resting place will be at Rose Hedge Cemetery in Gurdon, AR.
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