Stella Mason Parson, a long-time educator who was the first Black woman to earn a college degree in the state of Nevada, died on July 29 from complication of renal failure. She was 86 years old.
The daughter of Mississippi sharecroppers, Parson and her family moved to Las Vegas when she was a young girl. She lived on a slab covered by a tent in West Las Vegas. They had no running water.
After graduating from Las Vegas High School, she was able to attend the University of Nevada, Reno due to a scholarship provided by the American Association for University Women. She graduated in 1952 with a bachelor’s degree in English. More than 35 years later, she earned a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Parson taught in the Las Vegas area public schools for 33 years. An elementary school in Las Vegas is named in her honor.