Nancy Alice Kester Neale, D.S.W.



Dr. Richard D. Howe, “Nancy Alice Kester Neale, D.S.W.,” Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections, accessed May 23, 2024,

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Nancy Alice Kester Neale, D.S.W.


Appalachian State University
Universities and colleges--Faculty


Dr. Richard D. Howe




Biographical sketches


Boone (N.C.)

Spatial Coverage

Temporal Coverage



Professor Emerita

Biographical Text

Professor Emerita of Sociology and Social Work Nancy Alice Kester Neale (April 27, 1934-) was born in Nashville, Tennessee, to Alice Harris and the Reverend Howard A. Kester. Her parents met in the mid-1920s at a YM-YWGA national conference at Blue Ridge Assembly, near Black Mountain, North Carolina. They built their life-long family home near Blue Ridge in 1939. Neale was graduated from Chatham Hall (Chatham, Virginia) in 1952 and was awarded the Rector's Medal (outstanding senior) for that year. She earned her A.B. degree from Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, in 1956. Subsequently, Neale earned the M.S.W. (1970) and D.S.W. (1977)-master's and doctor's degrees in social work-from the University of Utah, Salt Lake City. Neale married Charles Russell Neale, Jr., (February 5, 1927-May 22, 2009) on March 21, 1959, in Boulder, Colorado. Russell Neale received his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire; his master's degree in personnel services from the University of Colorado in Boulder; and his doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Utah. The Neales have three children. Nancy Aleda earned her master's degree in American literature from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Leda lives in Asheville, North Carolina. Her daughter, Isabella Neale Yeager is now at Smith College. Erica Deanne, who received her M.S. degree from Case Western Reserve, Cleveland, Ohio, specializing in social work, now lives near Black Mountain, North Carolina. Graham Robert Kester was awarded his M.S. degree in wildlife biology from the University of Montana at Missoula. His specializations are in caribou, moose, and wolves. He is married to Diana Tremaine, and they have a daughter, Kester. They live in Montana. Neale's first post-college position was as an assistant young-adult program director with the YWCA of St. Louis, Missouri; the next was an assistant director of the student YWCA of the University of Colorado. After their marriage, the Neales moved to Salt Lake City for Russell's doctoral study in psychology. During that general period, Nancy held such positions as assistant director of the Salt Lake City Jewish Community Center, preschool teacher and consultant, director of volunteers for the Salt Lake City Project Head Start in its early days, and associate executive director of the Salt Lake City YWCA. In addition, she taught graduate courses for the University of Utah's Graduate School of Social Work, was a consultant to several private urban nonprofit organizations, and did volunteer work in several other organizations. In the late 1960s, she organized in the state of Utah a group of women called "Women in Social Work" to try to improve the working situation for women professionals and aides in public and private employment across the state, especially in Salt Lake City. Neale's master's thesis (co-authored) was "Evaluation of Emergency Room Services in a Teaching Hospital" (1970), and her dissertation title was "Women's Studies in Social Work Education: The Impact of a Social Movement on Curriculum" (1977). The Neales moved to Boone, North Carolina, in January 1978, and Nancy Neale was employed for seven months as a social work consultant for the New River Mental Health Center, with her consulting services extending across five counties. In April 1978, at the request of the Mental Health Center's director, Dr. Neale began designing and organizing a facility for battered and abused women, which became known as OASIS, Inc. In August 1978, Dr. Neale joined the faculty of the Department of Sociology at Appalachian State University where she taught courses, supervised field work, and served on the Faculty Senate (chair, 1981-82). In the fall of 1981, Dr. Neale was asked by the chair of the department, Dr. A.M. Denton, to begin planning and designing an accreditable undergraduate social work program for the department. This beginning work, which was done while Neale was teaching full-time and engaging in campus and community service, took five years to move through administrative channels. The plan for a social work program was approved by the North Carolina Board of Governors early in 1980 and Dr. Neale was designated as the program director. She served ten years in that capacity. During this time, three additional social work faculty positions were added, and the number of social work majors grew to approximately 170, and rising, when Neale resigned and retired from the university. Appalachian State University has since created the Nancy Kester Neale Scholarship in Social Work, which has an annual recipient. After the inception of the social work program, the departmental name was changed in 1986 to reflect the expansion, and it became known as the Department of Sociology and Social Work. Dr. Neale regularly taught three social work courses: Professional Social Work in Contemporary Society, the American Social Welfare System, and Human Behavior in the Social Environment. One of her publications was a requested chapter, "Private Practice," in the Handbook of Clinical Social Work (1983, Jossey-Bass). From 1989 to 1991, after serving previously in other capacities, Dr. Neale chaired the North Carolina chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, Raleigh, North Carolina. In 1998, she served as chair of the High Country United Way after many years as a board member and a committee chair. At the end of 1998, Neale received the "Tom Adams Service Award." Other community organizations for which she volunteered include OASIS, Inc. (mostly as a board member and trainer), the Hunger Coalition, Hospice of the Boone Area, and the Blue Ridge Dispute Settlement Center. Dr. Neale also had a small part-time private clinical practice in Utah and in Boone. Neale had many plans for retirement, some of which still await her attention. She and her husband moved to the Deerfield Episcopal Retirement Community in South Asheville in 2001, and although her husband passed away earlier this year, she continues to live there today. Sources: Appalachian State University files and personal correspondence. -Dr. Richard D. Howe

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