Nova A. Scott, a retired Baltimore public schools educator who became the first African-American woman to serve on the Howard County Commission on Aging, died Wednesday of complications from an infection at Howard County General Hospital.
She was 86.
"Nova was always very low-key. She never talked about what she was doing, she just did it, and she did lots of good during her life," said Betty S. Brown, a retired Baltimore public schools educator and a friend for more than 50 years.
The daughter of a master carpenter and a homemaker, Nova Marie Teresa Anderson was born the fourth of nine children and was raised in Jackson, Miss., where she graduated in 1944 from the Lanier School.
Mrs. Scott enrolled at Tougaloo College, a historically black institution in Jackson, where she earned a bachelor's degree in 1948 in chemistry.
"She was influenced by her parents, who had been active in civil rights," said a grandchild, Angela J. Scott, a lawyer who lives in Windsor Hills.
Thelma Cooley Robinson was a college classmate and a fellow Mississippian.
"Nova was a very lovely person and very dedicated to civil rights. She did whatever she could to further the cause," said Ms. Robinson, a retired federal government mathematician who lives in Cheverly.
"She participated in all the programs at college. She talked to people and passed out literature," said Ms. Robinson. "She knew the Deep South very well and was very outspoken. She was always at the forefront and pushed the cause."
Mrs. Scott later earned a second bachelor's degree from what is now Coppin State University, and did additional studies at Morgan State University, the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland.
In 1949, she married Wayman Anthony Scott Jr., a Delaware-born educator, and moved to Dover, Del. In 1953, the couple moved to Catonsville and Mrs. Scott began teaching in Howard County public schools.
Mrs. Scott began teaching in 1957 in Baltimore public schools, where she was a special-education and home-applied economics teacher at the elementary, junior high and senior high levels.
She had been on the faculty of Gwynns Falls Park Junior High School for many years and retired in 1985.
"Nova valued education tremendously and constantly instilled its importance in her son and grandchildren," said Ms. Scott.
"I first met Nova when I was a new teacher at Gwynns Falls Park," recalled Ms. Brown. "She was wonderful, giving and caring, and showed me the ropes. She'd say, 'You're doing a good job,' and was always giving good advice."
She added that Mrs. Scott was a "wonderful role model."
"You know, the older teachers kind of looked down on the young ones, but not Nova, and we remained close friends all these years," said Ms. Brown. "She was such a big help to me when I was a young teacher. She was my biggest confidante."
Ms. Brown said her friend occasionally talked about growing up in Mississippi.
"She talked about her parents and how it was difficult for her father, who was a builder, at times. And how difficult it was for blacks who couldn't attend state universities," she said.
In 1961, Mrs. Scott and her husband moved to the Triadelphia Road area of Ellicott City, and both immersed themselves in community and charitable work.