Mae Eve Nelson Brown will return home to the golden fields of her beloved California. Born to Swedish immigrant parents Carl Leonard Nelson and Alva Hilma Maria Soderstrom Nelson in Ryder, North Dakota on May 27, 1921, Mae and her family moved to East Nicolaus, California in 1923. She was baptized at Fairview Community Christian Church.
After skipping two grades, she graduated from East Nicolaus High School in 1938. She was a lifetime member of the California Scholarship Federation, editor of The Spartan student newspaper, editor of the high school yearbook Leaves of Yesterday and served on student council. She earned her Associates Degree from Yuba College in 1940.
That same year she married her life's mate James Marshall ("Jim") Brown from Lincoln, and the young couple began their marriage on a farm in the Foothills where they raised turkeys. They moved shortly thereafter to their ranch between Nicolaus and Wheatland, where they grew rice and raised turkeys, sheep and cattle. They were blessed with four daughters, Hilda Christine ("Chris," deceased in 2006), Patricia Margit ("Pat"), Sandra Mae ("Sammie") and Jamie Lynette ("Jamie"). James preceded Mae in death in 1977.
As a young woman Mae served as President of the Sacramento Valley Turkey Growers Association and as a member of the California Turkey Advisory Board before being appointed to the National Turkey Promotion Advisory Board.
Mae's lifetime commitment to leadership in 4-H began when she was a member. She went on to serve as Community Leader for the East Nicolaus 4-H Club for fifteen years. She was county, regional and state president of the 4-H Council. She was President of the 4-H Leaders Forum and served as the California State Diamond Star Advisor for two years. She served on the Junior Livestock Sale Committee for both the Yuba-Sutter Fair and the California State Fair.
In the 1960's Mae worked with other local citizens to preserve East Nicolaus High as a focal point in the community and to maintain ENHS' independence when consolidation with the Wheatland High School District was proposed. Mae's steadfast belief in the transformative power of education prompted her to serve as a founding member of the East Nicolaus High School Alumni Association and as Chairman of that organization's Scholarship Committee.
Mae lived with her daughter Pat in Lubbock, Texas from 2005 until her death on February 3, 2009. Her keen intellect, strength of will, boundless love for family, service to young people throughout the state, and pride in community will be mourned deeply.
She was preceded in death by husband Jim Brown, Wheatland, and daughter Christine Bolling M.S. of Woodbridge, VA. She was also preceded by older brother, Carl Nelson, Jr. of Chico and younger sister, Lorna Bonnifield of Lincoln.
She is survived by daughters Patricia Brown, M.S., of Lubbock, Texas; Sandra (Richard) Reason of Tonopah, NV and Mountain View, HI; and Dr. Jamie (Edwin) Kruse, Ph.D., of Greenville, NC and Kimball, NE; granddaughters Christina Collins (Mike) Apperson, J.D., of Chapel Hill, NC and Amanda (Jeremy) Hinkle of Pittsboro, NC; grandson Jon (Danielle) Gillmore and great-grandchildren Anna and William of Lubbock, TX; grandson Jim Gillmore of Superior, NE; granddaughter Dawhn (Cory) Bodyfeldt and great-granddaughters Rylieh and Adryahn of Fairbanks, AK; granddaughter Casey (Clint) Sidwell and great-grandsons Jed and Cal of Gill, CO; and granddaughter Dr. Gina Kruse, M.D., of Boston, MA. She is also survived by her brother Richard (Clara) Nelson of Wheatland.
Visitation will be Monday February 9, 2009 from 4 to 7 pm at Sierra View Mortuary, 4900 Olive Avenue, Olivehurst, CA. Funeral services will be held Tuesday, February 10 at 1 PM at Fairview Community Christian Church, 1991 Pacific Ave., Trowbridge, CA.
Those wishing to honor Mae are invited to contribute to the following organizations: The California 4-H Foundation, P.O. Box 73673, Davis, CA 95617 and The East Nicolaus High School Alumni Association, in care of Mary VanDyke, P.O. Box 673, Pleasant Grove, CA 95668.