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Thereasea Elder, First Black Public Health Nurse In Charlotte, Dies

Thearsea Elder
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

Thereasea Elder, one of the first Black public health nurses in Charlotte, died Tuesday at age 93.

Elder was born in 1927 in Lancaster, South Carolina. After moving to Charlotte, Elder started West Charlotte High School in 1938.

According to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Elder began her studies at Johnson C. Smith University but later transferred to North Carolina Central University to study nursing. After graduation, Elder continued her studies in nursing at Howard University’s Freeman’s Hospital in Washington D.C.

Returning to Charlotte, Elder began working at Good Samaritan Hospital, which served Black patients in the area. She soon became one of the first Black public health nurses for Mecklenburg County and served residents of all races.

In her public health work, Elder advocated for health literacy and remained dedicated to engaging and serving her community. She became part of the Greenville Historical Association and served on the board for the Greater Carolinas Chapter of the American Red Cross. According to a history of Elder’s life, Elder retired in 1989, but continued to attend community meetings and advocate for public health in Charlotte.

Elder had two sons with her husband Wille Elder, who was a World War II veteran.

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