Betty Jane Nelson, 86, was born on September, 18, 1926 in Boise, ID to George W. Hull and Jessie Pearl (Beery). She went home to be with her Lord and Savior Jesus on June 4, 2013 after a fall at her home in Mt. Vernon, WA. An asthmatic from birth, Betty was a determined individual with a sharp wit and spirited personality the kind of person you can meet once and never forget! She is dearly loved and will be missed by her family and friends.
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Her love of singing led Betty's parents to arrange for voice lessons and she debuted on KIDO radio at age 5. Her favorite hideaway as a child was on the rooftop where she'd sing to her heart's content, not realizing until years later that her neighbors heard her entire repertoire.
Betty earned her private pilot's license in 1945 under the tutelage of Bill Woods. Although too young to join the WASPs, she was active in the Civil Air Patrol, Baja Bush Pilots and Air Force Association. In 1947 Betty graduated from Boise Junior College, majoring in voice. She met her future husband, Robert Nelson, in music appreciation class and soon after he became her piano accompanist. They married in 1948 and welcomed four children into their musical family, living in Boise, Ontario, OR, Houston, TX, and Coronado, CA in 1972. Betty taught kindergarten (traditional and musical kindergarten), directed youth, adult and handbell choirs for Episcopal, Lutheran and Methodist churches, accompanied on piano/organ, and taught private piano and voice for over 50 years - how she loved her students and loved teaching! She enjoyed classical music (especially J.S. Bach), appeared as soloist in numerous oratorios and operas and sang with Robert Shaw, the Bedford Singers and the San Diego Symphonic Chorale. Betty loved folk music of the British Isles and accompanied herself on autoharp. She was also a skilled office manager and worked at the Hotel Del Coronado, NAB Marina, San Diego Marine Construction and University of San Diego.
When Betty and Robert divorced in 1976 she lived in Point Loma, Old Town, Vista, Klamath Falls, Homedale, Boise and lastly Mt.Vernon, WA. Her youngest son Brian was diagnosed with Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis at age 17 and for 26 years Betty dedicated herself to helping him battle the disease. To pass the time at medical appointments, she taught herself to "tat" and made Bible bookmark crosses to give away. There must be hundreds of her tatted crosses out there! She loved God and marveled at His amazing creation, and she encouraged others to see His handiwork in the world around them.
Betty was preceded in death by her son Brian, her sister Goodrid (Hicks) and her parents.
She is survived by Robert V. Nelson of Portland, OR; son Steve Nelson (Sharron) of Boise, ID; daughters, Brenda Nelson (Marvin Hamm) of Portland, OR and Becky Hedman (Eben) of Burlington, WA; grandchildren Samuel Nelson, Hannah (Peter) Van Enoo, John Nelson, Matthew Brown, Elisabeth Hedman, Peter (Heather) Hedman, great-grandson Axel Hedman, and niece Peggy (Jim) Hester of Littleton, CO.
The family wishes to thank the wonderful staff and residents at Alpine Ridge Apartments and the folks at Mt. Vernon Senior Center - mom loved being with her friends, her exercise class and tatting on Tuesdays! Thank you also to her extra-special caregivers, Judy and Karen, and her church family - you are a blessing.
A memorial service will be held at 11 am on Sat. July 13th at Trinity Lutheran Church, 301 S 18th St. Mt. Vernon, WA, with a reception to follow.
Please visit Betty.Nelson.muchloved.com to share memories with her family and friends.
Arrangements are by Whatcom Cremation and Funeral, Bellingham, WA. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Institute for Creation Research, Trinity Lutheran Church, or Skagit Meals on Wheels.
Whatcom Cremation & Funeral
4202 Guide Meridian Bellingham, WA 98226
Published in Skagit Valley Herald Publishing Company on June 30, 2013