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Elizabeth Nowlin Witt


Haughton, LA – Elizabeth Moody Nowlin Witt, Ph.D., died today, May 29, 2020. She was seventy- nine years old.

Beth was born April 11, 1941, in Columbus, Mississippi, to John David and Elizabeth Moody Nowlin. Her parents divorced when she was an infant, and Beth was raised by her mother and grandmother, Lucille McCann Moody. Her grandmother’s teachings and the fact that Beth survived a critical attack of bulbar polio in 1952 were powerful influences on her life.

1963 was a key year for Beth. She married her high school sweetheart, Larry Witt, in February, shortly before he entered the Air Force’s Flight Training School in Selma, Alabama. Beth received her bachelor degree in Journalism and English from the “W” (Mississippi State University for Women) in May of ‘63 and joined her husband in Selma. There she worked as a reporter for the Selma Times-Journal, where she was witness to Martin Luther King’s participation in important events that were influential in the Civil Rights Movement. In December of 1963, Beth gave birth to her first son, Larry Witt, III.

During the next ten years, Beth and her husband lived in Georgia, Mississippi, Michigan, and California, and added two more sons to their family: Benjamin was born in Albany, Georgia and John at Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Michigan. Beth worked as a press secretary for the five-state Tennessee Waterway Authority, while the family was stationed in Mississippi. At other bases, she was active in Officer’s Wives Club work (she was editor of the Wives Club paper in Michigan), as a volunteer Grey Lady at base hospitals, and as a volunteer at her children’s schools.

In 1972, the Witts were transferred to Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, where twin girls (Elizabeth and Catherine) were born. Birth-caused brain damage to her daughter Elizabeth precipitated Beth’s return to college, where she received a Master’s in Special Education (1978) from Louisiana Tech University. She began to work in 1976 at C-BARC’s Goldman School, where her daughter had received training. After working there for three years, Beth went to work as a teacher of preschool children with disabilities in Bossier Parish Schools. There her collaborative teaching with speech therapist Jeanne Boose Morgan resulted in their writing and publishing (in 1984) a teaching kit for developing language in young children with delays, which was called TOTAL. These materials brought Beth national attention, and during the next ten years, she was invited to speak to school districts and at national and state conferences for teachers, speech pathologists, and educational diagnosticians in 14 states and two Canadian provinces. She also wrote and published two other educational products: ENABLE and PREPARE, numerous professional articles, and a chapter in a college textbook. Beth later worked for 13 years (1983-96) as an educational diagnostician for the Caddo Parish Special Education Pupil Appraisal team, and, for several years, taught coursework for Louisiana Tech leading to certification in early childhood special education.

In the ‘90’s, Beth began work on a doctorate in speech-language pathology from LSU in Baton Rouge. She received her Ph.D. in 2000. Beth was employed as an assistant professor for LSUHSC’s Department of Rehabilitation Services (speech-language pathology program) at Mollie Webb Speech and Hearing Center from 1998 through 2004. There she taught coursework in language development and disorders, fluency disorders, multicultural issues, and discourse analysis, and was clinic supervisor. While there, she developed, initiated, and supervised a program for late talking toddlers. After her retirement from LSUHSC, Beth later worked part-time as a consultant for the Caddo Early Head Start program, as well as C-BARC’s early intervention program.

Beth is survived by her husband Larry and five children: Larry (and wife Gladys) of Palm Harbor, Florida; Ben (and wife Sarah) of Memphis, Tennessee; John (and wife Stacy) of Norfolk, Nebraska; Catherine Horak of McKinney, Texas, and Elizabeth Witt of Shreveport, Louisiana. She is also survived by eight grandchildren: Matthew and Rachel Witt of Athens, Georgia; Cade, Kinley, and Landry Shaw of McKinney, Texas; and Elizabeth, Catherine, and Allie Witt of Norfolk, Nebraska.

Because Beth believed that individuals who were raised in a book-filled home and were avid readers were life-long happy, educated, knowledgeable, and productive people, she always gave books as gifts to family and friends.

Due to COVID-19, a memorial service will be held at a later date.

In her memory, contributions may be made to Holy Angels Residential Facility (10450 Ellerbe Road, Shreveport, Louisiana, 71106) or to scholarship funds for needy students at a college of your choice.

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