In the fall of last year, after looking through a near perfectly curated collection of aquamarine and blue topaz stones, Dedra knew what it was the moment David said he had, “just one more option for her to consider.” A rare stone out of Sri-Lanka, the Ceylon sapphire is known for its range of blue colors and would be the perfect match to her late husband, Scot’s, cornflower blue eyes. Dedra knew this stone was the one to take the place of her wedding rings and commemorate 26 years of marriage and 28 years together with the greatest love of her life.
Scot Nevill’s sudden passing, in May of 2021, shocked the tight-knit community of Iola and the surrounding towns. The 54-year-old, 6’ 6″ rancher and owner of a successful rodeo company was a loyal friend to many and a loving family man to his wife Dedra, their son Will, and twin daughters Tatum and Taylor.
More than 1,000 people attended his visitation and memorial paying tribute to what he and his family meant to the community. His service on the Iola school board was honored as the local schools were closed the day of his memorial so members of the board and staff as well as families could attend. The service was live- streamed and recorded, allowing hundreds of additional out of town and out of state friends to show their respects virtually to a man of great character and strength.
“Looking back now, I can see the blessings the year before Scot’s death brought to our family,” said Dedra. All three of their children were home when life as everyone knew it came to a halt due to COVID-19. “We were living on top of each other, but we just enjoyed the time we were given.” From family walks in the evenings to family breakfasts each morning, the five of them were inseparable. Will in particular looks back fondly at that time he had learning from his dad and working in their cow-calf operation on the family land.
After Scot’s passing, the twins moved back to be closer to family, leaving college life and volleyball scholarships behind. Little did they know, at the time, what a gift their presence would be. Just three months after Scot’s death, 23-year-old Will collapsed from an arteriovenous malformation (AVM). One month after Will and his wife Logan were married, in January of 2022, he underwent a procedure to address the AVM.
Expecting a smooth recovery, the family again took an unexpected blow when the surgery caused a brain bleed, leaving Will in a coma, clinging to life. When Will finally awoke, he was unable to move or speak. His wife and mother now alternate days at home to care for him as his recovery progresses. He is slowly re-gaining strength to move his arms and legs, and re-learning how to speak.
After a devastating 18 months, the pain is still evident on their faces. The road ahead is taken one careful step at a time. In these unexpected times, the lights that shine in the darkness are the lights of faith and hope. Their resilience to move forward, the inner strength not just to survive the hard times but to live their best lives to honor Scot’s memory, is truly inspiring.
When Dedra was ready to have a new ring made this past spring, she knew David would get it right. David Gardner’s Jewelers had gotten it right from the very beginning of the Nevills’ engagement in 1995 when she and Scot purchased their wedding rings from the Gardners. They each secretly engraved “Always” inside their wedding bands. “That’s how Scot signed every letter he ever wrote me and how we ended our conversations most nights,” Dedra said. After Scot passed, Dedra had “Always” tattooed on her arm in his handwriting, a first for the mother of three. “I just wanted ways to keep him close.”
The Nevills’ early connection to the Gardners wasn’t the end of that close bond. Dedra’s connection to the Gardners deepened when she became their first marketing director. Though Dedra is now the Assistant Vice President for University Advancement, Donor Relations at Texas A&M, she has fond memories of those early days working with Julia. She and the twins, who were nearly a year old at the time, would meet Julia at places where the girls could eat and play while the two of them worked.
In a full circle moment, one of the twins, Taylor, now works at David Gardner’s. She is a recent graduate of the American Gem Society sales training program and proud member of the fightin’ Texas Aggie class of ‘24. “Both girls have his blue eyes but Taylor is the most like Scot. Stubborn and strong in her convictions, she has truly blossomed working at the store,” said Dedra.
“Scot was the calmest, most loving person I’ve ever met, and loyal. The greatest blessing is that me and the children were loved by him and never a day was there ever a doubt. And because of that we got to love him back.”