Nidia Scharlock passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on 12/26/2019 with her cherished daughter, Caroline at her side. She is survived by her children Jonathan, Nancy, Susan, and Caroline Scharlock; son’s–in-law Randall Zea and Michael Russo; and her grandchildren Elisabeth, William, and Douglas Russo. She is pre-deceased by her husband Donald Scharlock and her beloved son Jeffrey Scharlock.
To appreciate Nidia, look no further than her favorite chair and the round table next to it to see the amazing life that was still being lived at the age of 89. One would see stacks of books, sewing box and pin cushion, cards and letters, handmade coffee mug and fresh baked Christmas cookies, a bouquet of bright holly from the yard in a pottery vase, the New York Times, and her dog Jack. From her chair she faced her big front window looking onto the nature sanctuary she created with gardens and birdfeeders that she meticulously studied and logged in her handwritten birding and wildlife journals. Nidia was a creative genius, voracious reader, writer of letters, gourmet cook, appreciator of the arts, world traveler, music aficionado, sports fan, and lover of nature and animals. And that’s just what she did in her spare time!
Nidia finished high school and college ahead of schedule and completed her first Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology by age 21 (is anyone surprised?) and charged full speed ahead into life. Champion of human rights and social justice, Nidia was not one to shy away from a sit-in, a walk-out, or a protest march and remained politically active throughout her entire life. She set the highest ethical standards for herself, and believed in human dignity for all people. Nidia was an exceptional role model in all aspects of her life.
While living in Chicago, Nidia and her husband Donald had five children: Jeffrey, Jonathan, Nancy, Susan, and Caroline. Nidia believed all children are wonderful and unique. She nurtured her own children with her extraordinary creativity. A prodigious output of expertly hand-sewed “Nidia couture” fell off the ends of her knitting needles at lightning speed and included sweaters, mittens, and hats. Her ingenuity knew no bounds; bits of velvet, satin, cotton, and ribbons, combined with tiny buttons and snaps would be deftly stitched into the most fabulous outfits for dolls and toy animals alike. And yes, she did really make dollhouses out of orange crates and contact paper! She was also known for the intricate and personalized quilts she sewed for her children and grandchildren. Nidia enjoyed celebrations and was ready with homemade Halloween costumes that included pirates, witches, butterflies, and bears. Christmas was similarly decked out with hand-knitted stockings, skating skirts, stocking caps, and matching jammies. Not only did Nidia keep a creative home for her children, she also provided them intellectual stimulation through her love of books, storytelling, and travel. Trips to the public library, local museums, farmers markets, and historic sites were all part of her cultural worldview she lovingly shared with her children.
Always curious and a firm believer in education, Nidia returned to school and earned her Master’s degree in Library Science in 1970. She was a natural in this field and thrived in the academic setting of a research librarian. After her children had fledged, Nidia arrived in Chapel Hill in 1980 and held the position of Head of Information Services at the University of North Carolina Health Sciences Library until her retirement in 1996.
In retirement, Nidia drew upon her strengths to serve her community. Her compassion for children and families facing difficult medical challenges led her to devote her time and energy to The Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill and to the UNC Children’s Hospital Sock Monkey Group. Nidia encountered hundreds of families during her 31 years with the Ronald McDonald House; her professionalism and empathy were steadfast and true. She consistently showed her genuine compassion for the families by listening to their stories and sharing her support through hugs and meaningful conversations. Her work with the UNC Children’s Hospital Sock Monkey Group involved sewing toy monkeys to be used as teaching tools to demonstrate medical procedures to children undergoing complex medical treatments. After the demonstration, the child would be given the sock monkey to help allay fears and to provide comfort. Nidia was committed to maintaining the highest level of workmanship of the monkeys and constructed over 1500 monkeys during her time with the group. The Monkey Group volunteers provided Nidia with friendship and laughter; she relished the fact that each of their handcrafted monkeys had its own little character and was as unique as the as the individual child to whom it was given.
Nidia’s smile was her trademark. She was comfortable meeting new people and was eager to make meaningful connections. Her inherent qualities of kindness and acceptance enabled her to make many dear friends each of whom she adored for their distinctive personality. Nidia’s three grandchildren brought her great joy and pride. She loved watching them grow from sweet babies to intelligent, thoughtful young adults. Their visits, phone conversations and mailed notes meant the world to her. Her doggy Jack was her loyal companion and a source of continual amusement and energy. Nidia’s compassion and kindness were mirrored in her daughter Caroline. Caroline shared many common qualities and interests with her mother and lovingly provided friendship and camaraderie. They could often be found trying new recipes, attending concerts and theatre performances, and walking with Jack through their neighborhood. Nidia deeply appreciated Caroline’s help in maintaining her treasured independent lifestyle.
Although Nidia left us so quickly, she left nothing undone. True to her nature, with Christmas cards mailed, the holiday sweets made, and a new set of monkeys completed, she walked out her door with teeth brushed, lipstick on, and her head held high, arm-in-arm with Caroline at her side.
All who knew Nidia knew her motto: “Good family, good friends, good food, and a good doggy”; she was always grateful for all that she had. Thoughtful and generous to the end, her beautiful, kind smile said it all.
To Nidia! From our hearts to yours, Hip Hip Hooray, Bravo and Touché, for a life well loved and well lived!
A gathering of friends and colleagues to celebrate Nidia will be held at the The Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill on Thursday January 9, 2020 from 10:00AM to 12:00 noon. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in Nidia’s name to The Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill, 101 Old Mason Farm Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27517, www.rmhch.org; Orange County Animal Shelter, 1601 Eubanks Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27516, http://www.orangecountync.gov/155/Animal-Services; NC Botanical Garden, 100 Old Mason Farm Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27517, https://ncbg.unc.edu/; or the UNC Children’s Hospital, https://www.uncchildrens.org/.
The Scharlock family is under the care of Walker's Funeral Home of Chapel Hill.