Nell Lee McKee Sandlin Dowell, age 94, passed away peacefully the evening of Feb 8, 2019 in Marshall, AR. She was born in Ferris, Texas on August 4, 1924 to William Ernest McKee and Mary Helen Couch McKee. In addition to her parents, Nell was preceded in death by her husbands, David Louis Sandlin and Murlyn Udell Dowell; her brother Thomas William “Bill” McKee; and her sister-in-law, Mildred Hollabaugh McKee.
Nell grew up on the family farm near Sterrett, Ellis County, TX. After high school, she entered nursing school for a short time before marrying David Louis Sandlin on Jan. 10, 1943. Dave joined the Merchant Marines, leaving Nell at home to work in support of the War Effort. After WWII, Nell and Dave worked in Texas City, TX, surviving the 1947 Texas City ship explosion. Years later, after Dave survived his own industrial accident, they moved their boys, David and Ron, to the safety of the Arkansas mountains. Dave returned to sea, and Nell taught school while earning a Masters Degree in Library Science. She enjoyed being librarian at the Marshall Elementary School for 22 years until retirement and was active in the Retired Teachers Association until her death. Nell’s hobbies were watching Razorback basketball, decorating cakes, traveling, and playing Skipbo. A gentle, but unrelenting, competitor, she earned the title of Skipbo Champion in Searcy County on her 94th birthday. Nell’s life verse, “This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it,” sustained in her a remarkable faith and positivity. Modeling kindness and generosity, Nell saw the good in others and was quick to forgive. Nell’s highest affections were for the Lord, and she cherished her Witts Springs Church. In addition to serving as treasurer for many years, she took food to the sick, hosted dinners, and welcomed newcomers. Nell was the first to stand up to testify about God’s goodness. She served as a missionary to Mexico and gave generously to missions . Nell is survived by two sons and spouses: David and Mary Lane Sandlin of Little Rock, AR; and Ron and Shirley Sandlin of Spring, TX. In addition to her sons, Nell is survived by 3 grandsons and spouses: Michael and Laura Sandlin of Fayetteville, AR; Scott Sandlin of Little Rock, AR; and Lee Charles and Megan Sandlin of Magnolia, TX; 3 great-granddaughters: Evie, Lily, and Ansley Sandlin of Fayetteville; one brother and sister-in-law: John Floyd and Pat McKee of Magnolia, AR; beloved nieces and nephews, their spouses, children, and grandchildren; and many dear friends. After Dave Sandlin passed away, Nell married Murlyn Dowell on June 28, 1996, and gained a second family. She is survived by 4 stepdaughters: Dr. Carylene and Dave Gentry of Marshall, AR; Sue and Alan Butler of Corpus Christi, TX; Joyce Dowell-Bieger and Janice Dowell Wells of Rockwall, TX; and 10 step-grandchildren: Dr. Matthew and Dr. Elissa Gentry of France; Jake and Niki Gentry of China; Dr. Jennifer Butler of Taiwan; Benjamin Butler of Dallas, TX; Brittany and Rainer Bieger, and son Hendrik of Germany; Baronger Bieger of Fayetteville, AR; Crystal and Cody Hollis and son Easton of Rockwall, TX; Weston and Almita Wells and children Esther, Liam, and Emilia of Ft. Worth, TX; Emerald Wells of Merritt Island, FL; and Justice Wells of Rockwall, TX.
Celebrations for Nell will be Friday, February 15th, 2019. Visitation will be at 1:00 PM at Roller-Coffman in Marshall. Funeral services will be at 2:00 PM with Bro. Jim Arnold, Jr. officiating. Burial will be in Trace Ridge Cemetery. A community potluck will be at Witts Springs Church at 5:00 PM. All are invited to come share a meal and a memory. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Nell's Mexico missions outreach. Checks payable to Witts Springs Bible Church (memo: Pestanos) may be mailed to Witts Springs Church, PO Box 36, Witts Springs, Arkansas 72686.