Clara Nelle Capps Cowart, 93, died November 20, 2022, in Little Rock, Arkansas, surrounded by loving family members. The ultimate caregiver, Clara was a registered nurse with the heart of a servant leader. Whether you called her Clara, Mamma, G-mommy, or Aunt Clara Nelle, you could depend on her love, wise counsel and generous nature.
She was preceded in death by her parents Marcus and Jessie Capps; her husband John Carl Cowart Sr.; her son John Carl Cowart Jr.; her sisters Sara Capps Braswell and Barbara Capps Whatley and brother-in-law Milton Whatley, her brother Kenneth Capps and sister-in-law Gloria Cowart Capps. Clara is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Jessica and Doug Szenher; her son and daughter-in-law, Dan and Tracy Cowart; grandchildren James Szenher, Brandon Cowart (Jordan), Katie Cowart, John Szenher and Garrett Cowart; and nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews, great-grandnieces and great-grandnephews throughout the United States.
Born in Lee County, Alabama, on December 30, 1928, Clara was an excellent athlete, earning honors in basketball at Beauregard High School. She also was a tennis player and swimmer, who changed her college major at Auburn University from physical education to nursing after the death of her father. She was graduated from Birmingham Baptist Nursing School as a registered nurse and practiced nursing first in Opelika, Alabama.
She moved with her family to Little Rock where she began working in the Operating Room at Baptist Medical Center. A national officer in the American Association of Operating Room Nurses, Clara helped move and equip the OR when the hospital moved west in the 1970s and retired from Baptist Health Medical Center after more than 30 years of service. Then she taught Licensed Practical Nursing for five more years.
The center of her spiritual and social life was Mabelvale United Methodist Church, where she helped lead many committees, events, outreach programs and the United Methodist Women. After retiring from teaching LPNs at 80, Clara spent the next 10 years on church projects like after-school programs with children for whom English was a second language and transporting meals to “feed the old people.” Her faith was one of action as the hands and feet of Christ.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, November 26, at Mabelvale United Methodist Church in Mabelvale, Arkansas. Her ashes will be buried later in a family service in Lee County, Alabama. Arrangements are being handled by Jeffcoat-Trant Funeral Home in Opelika. Memorials may be made to Mabelvale United Methodist Church or Watoola United Methodist Church in Lee County.