Marie Elizabeth Nelson
Marie's quiet and gentle nature is very much in keeping with her life.
Who would have dared expect anything else? We have her music, her
wholesome lifestyle and images to remind us of a very special lady, and treasure them.
Marie Elizabeth Nelson was born on July 27, 1915, in Chappell, Nebraska to Mads Peter Jensen and Mary Waneta Frederick Jensen. She joined her husband, parents, her brother Mervin, and other departed family members in heaven on Thursday, August 15, 2013.
Marie graduated from Chappell High School and began her college studies at Nebraska Wesleyan. She completed her Bachelors in Education at the University of Colorado with postgraduate work at the University of Wyoming. Marie began her teaching career in Chappell where she met her beloved husband, Byron Nelson. Following their marriage, they moved to Alliance, Nebraska, where Marie left the classroom for a while to concentrate on her role as a mother to her children, Greg and Jann. She eventually returned to the classroom, teaching at several rural schools in the Alliance area. She and Byron continued to teach until they retired to enjoy family, travel, and many Elderhostel experiences. Additionally, Marie taught organ via NET's video instruction series at Alliance High School. She worked with the University of Nebraska Music Department instructors to serve western Nebraska students who shared her passion for music.
Marie was as an accomplished pianist and organist. She shared her
talents with the community of Alliance in a number of ways. At various
times, she served as the accompanist for the Methodist, Episcopal, and
Lutheran churches. She offered piano lessons in Chappell and in
Alliance for many years.
Marie accompanied Lee Finecy on KCOW's "Springs of Living Waters" radio program during the 1950s. On Sunday afternoons her parents would drive to the top of the hill north of Chappell and sit in the car, listening to Marie's beautiful music.
Marie was the accompanist for Eastern Star for several decades. Her
most memorable experience as an organist occurred in October 1964, when the world renowned violin act, David Rubinoff and his Violin, came to Alliance to perform for the Kiwanis Club's fund raiser event at the Community Building and at local schools. Rubinoff offered to play his violin at the Methodist church and Marie accompanied him on their newly installed organ. Rubinoff was amazed at Marie's organist skills, which he found in a little town on the edge of Nebraska's Sandhills.
Her piano playing was a special part of family gatherings over the
years, especially at Christmas when she would accompany the "chorus" of Nelson, Howard, or Simnitt family members as they sang their favorite carols.
In addition to music, Marie had an abiding love of literature. She was
an avid reader whose reading tastes ran the full range of genres. She
loved words and delighted in finding new ones; in fact, she kept a
"running list" of words new to her in a series of notebooks over the
years and loved to share those new words with her English teacher
daughter-in-law, Linda. She was a talented poet; she loved the sound of words and the images they could convey when used sparsely but
effectively. Her poetry was published in the Alliance Times Herald and
Marie supported her family, friends and community in so many ways. She
traveled to far-flung regions of the planet with Byron and her family to encourage teaching, Scouting, geography and computer activities.
Marie and her family called Sydney, Australia, home for a year because
Byron had been selected as a Fulbright Scholar to teach woodworking,
drafting and other classes at Sydney Technical High School. The entire
family lived the Australian life for a year.
Marie was an active and energetic member of the community. She was
involved in the United Methodist Woman, Eastern Star, and PEO AH
Chapter. She and Byron were among the founders of the Friends of
Carhenge, a citizen group who advocated early-on for the value of
Carhenge as a viable tourist attraction. She served on various church
committees, including Mission work, Bible study classes, and many
dinners for fund raising. She and Byron were great supporters of Camp
Norwesca from its inception and continued their involvement well into
Byron's work with the Boy Scouts in Chappell and Alliance spanned across six decades. Marie supported her Scouts - Byron and Greg - through thick and thin. Marie helped Jann with 4-H, musical performances and school projects.
Marie was, above all, a woman of great compassion and faith. She served as a model of caring and spiritual grounding to her children,
grandchildren, and great grand children. She will be missed but will
always be remembered by those who knew and loved her.
Marie was preceded in death by her parents, her brother and her loving
husband. She is survived by her son Greg Nelson and his wife, Linda;
daughter Jann Howard and her husband, Harvey; grandchildren Hannah
Phelps and Robert Howard; Hannah's husband, Jason Phelps; great
grandchildren Calvin, Abigail and Zach Wheatley and Erica Howard, all of Lincoln.
Marie is also survived by her Ghanaian "son", Osae Otchere, who arrived in an Nebraska blizzard and stayed for four years while he earned his agri-business degree from Chadron State College. Osae became an important contributor to Alliance's livelihood and to his family. Osae and his wife, Dora, reside near San Antonio, Texas.
Funeral services will be held Tuesday, August 20, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. at the United Methodist Church in Alliance. Pastor Tom Lucas will officiate. Burial will be in the Alliance Cemetery.
Memorials may be designated to NET Foundation for Television, NET
Foundation for Radio, Camp Norwesca, or Friends of Carhenge.
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