Lyon College to honor Nancy Britton with Friend of Education Award

Lyon College will honor historian, educator and community leader Nancy Britton of Batesville with the Friend of Education Award during the annual Founders’ Day Convocation on Friday, Oct. 27, at 11 a.m. in the Sloan Auditorium of Brown Fine Arts Building on the Lyon College campus, 2300 Highland Rd., Batesville. The public is invited.

“Nancy has left an indelible mark on the landscape of Independence County, Arkansas United Methodist history and beyond,” said Lyon College President Dr. Melissa Taverner. “Her unwavering commitment to preserving and sharing the rich history of her community and Arkansas churches has earned her a place of honor and admiration. She truly defines the term Friend of Education, and Lyon College is honored to recognize her with this prestigious award.”

A daughter, wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, Britton shared 45 years of her life with the late Dr. Samuel Britton, and together they raised four children: Pam, Stuart, Melissa and Cindy. Her family has grown over the years to include eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, with another on the way.

Family has always been at the center of Britton’s life, providing the foundation for her lifelong pursuits. Britton’s educational journey took her from the University of Kansas, where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Education, to Marshall University in West Virginia, where she obtained a Master of Arts in History.

Her academic achievements laid the groundwork for her future as a historian and educator, allowing her to share her knowledge with secondary and postsecondary students in Batesville and Southside. As an educator, Britton left a lasting legacy at Lyon College, where she served as an adjunct history faculty member from 1975 to 1992. She also blazed a trail by teaching college-level Western Civilization courses at Batesville High School and Southside High School from 1978 to 1985, becoming the first person ever to do so for Lyon College. Her dedication to teaching extended beyond the classroom, and she served as a longtime 3rd- and 4th-grade Sunday school teacher, nurturing young minds with wisdom and compassion.

One of Britton’s most notable contributions to the community was her role as the editor of the Independence County Historical Society Chronicle from 1986 to 2014. During her illustrious tenure, the Chronicle earned accolades and recognition from the Arkansas Historical Association (AHA), including the prestigious Walter L. Brown Award for Best County or Local Historical Journal, which it received at least twice.

In 2005, Britton received the AHA Lifetime Achievement Award for her tireless dedication to historical preservation. Her contributions were also celebrated by the AHA with additional awards, including Best Family History Published in a County or Local Historical Journal in 1990 and multiple Best Edited Document Published in a County or Local Historical Journal awards.

Britton’s leadership extended beyond her editorial role. She served on the Arkansas Historical Association Board of Trustees from 1980 to 1983 and again from 1996 to 2002. Additionally, she chaired the Annual Meeting Committee and Publications Committee of the AHA, and she was a member of the Nomination Committee. Her dedication to preserving the historical legacy of her church was evident in her role as the director of the Arkansas United Methodist Historical Society. 

Britton also played a pivotal role in the founding and growth of the Old Independence Regional Museum, serving as a founding trustee and former secretary of the board. Britton’s literary contributions are equally remarkable. She authored and co-authored several significant works, including “Two Centuries of Methodism in Arkansas: 1800-2000,” “Built on Faith: A Centennial History of Pulaski Heights Methodist Church, 1912-2012” (with Tyler Thompson), “Worthy of Much Praise: A History of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church” (with Dora Lee Ferguson), “A History of the First United Methodist Church, Conway, Arkansas,” “A Splendid Little War” (Spanish American War collectibles price guide), and “Independence County, Arkansas” (with Brian K. Robertson).

Her contributions extend to numerous other historical books and booklets related to historical homes, the history of Batesville and the history of Independence County.

“Nancy’s dedication to the preservation and celebration of local history has left an enduring legacy in Independence County and beyond,” said Dr. Taverner. “Her work has not only enriched our understanding of the past but also inspired countless individuals to appreciate the significance of their heritage. Her life is a testament to the power of passion, dedication and a deep love for one’s community.”

The Founders’ Day Convocation is an annual event to observe and celebrate Lyon College’s founding in 1872. This year’s keynote speaker will be central Arkansas family dentist Dr. Jay Powell, a member of the Lyon College class of 1994. His speech is titled “Back in the ‘90s: A Glimpse into Campus Life 30 Years Ago.”