By: Anna-Kate Weichel
Nila Tolliver came from a family of doers. Growing up, her parents worked hard and started numerous churches all while raising ten kids. Tolliver continued in her parents’ footsteps while creating her own legacy.
She married her husband, Rob Tolliver, at a very young age. They had two children two years into their loving marriage and later added a third to their family. Rob Tolliver worked the hard life of a coal miner, while Nila Tolliver remained in the home to raise their three young children. One of the couple’s daughters, Trulafaye Tolliver, said that her parents placed a big emphasis on teaching her and her siblings the Word of God.
“Every morning, before we would walk to school, Mom would sit us down and read us stories from the Bible,” Trulafaye Tolliver said. She said her parents both worked hard to spread the Word to others while giving their children the best life possible. Nila Tolliver went through a number of jobs from waitressing to working at a shoe factory and began attending college at night. At a time when many women weren’t getting their education, Trulafaye Tolliver recalls that her father was her mother’s greatest supporter. As busy as she was, she always serving in different capacities in ministry.
“I can’t remember a time where Mom wasn’t working with the Church of God at large,” Trulafaye Tolliver said.
At one point, Nila paid a visit to her brother, Neville, who was preaching in Houston while he attended Gulf Coast Bible College. It was just a weekend trip, but those couple of days changed her life forever. She knew she was meant to study at GBC. As always, Rob Tolliver supported her decision and the couple moved to Houston not long after, with Rob and Nila Tolliver serving as dorm parents at the college.
One of their residents was Dr. Kimberly Thomas, who today serves as professor and director of MACU’s adult Psychology program. She grew to be quite close with Nila Tolliver and the two women sparked a lifelong friendship. “When I met her, I was just an eighteen year old girl,” said Thomas. “We walked through so much together. She invested in so many lives. Ministry, serving others and Gulf Coast Bible College were all such an integral part of Nila’s life.”
About ten years later, Rob Tolliver went to be with the Lord – but Nila Tolliver knew God wasn’t done using her yet. She moved to West Virginia to be near her daughter, where she became a hospital chaplain. For several years, she enjoyed helping others find joy in Jesus during difficult times. Sadly, Nila Tolliver was later diagnosed with cancer, and found her home in heaven on Nov. 7, 2010. Both Thomas and Trulafaye Tolliver agreed she is looking down joyfully at MACU surrounded by strawberries and glass bottles of Dr. Pepper.
Before she passed, she conveyed to her daughter that she wanted her estate invested into ministry students at MACU. “It was so important to her that women in ministry be supported and encouraged, because that was her love and life,” Trulafaye Tolliver said.
About 10 years ago, she set up the Rob and Nila Tolliver Scholarship for Women in Ministry to honor her mother’s wish and everlasting love for Jesus Christ. MACU is forever grateful to donors like Nila Tolliver who invest in our students through financial means. If you are interested in making your own eternal investment in MACU, please call University Advancement at 405-692-3191 or visit give.macu.edu.