Emily JoAnne Nebel (née Schneider), 40, died peacefully at her home in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, on Saturday, January 2, 2021, surrounded by her family. Born to parents David and Sheila Schneider, she grew up with her older brother, Ben, in Denver and later Lafayette, CO.
Emily was a graduate of Centaurus High School in Lafayette and earned dual degrees in civil and environmental engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2003. After graduation, she worked until her retirement in 2020 for an engineering firm, AECOM (formerly ENSR and RETEC), on various projects to help clients address and mitigate environmental impacts and ensure compliance with laws and regulations. She was a diligent worker who especially valued her relationships with colleagues and clients.
Emily's passions were her family, the outdoors, and travel.
She married her college sweetheart and love of her life, Scott Nebel, in 2008.Together they created a wonderfully happy home for first, their beloved dog, Mauka, and then two children, Makayla, 10, and Caden, 4.
Emily developed her enthusiasm for travel very early, pouring over maps she collected as a child from the centerfold of National Geographic magazines. She cherished her memories of participating in a Rotary exchange program to South Africa after her sophomore year of high school, then, as a sophomore in college, visiting multiple countries around the world with Semester at Sea, and later participating in a service trip to Africa with Engineers Without Borders.
She was an avid outdoors person who loved rowing with her college crew team and running marathon team relays, as well as hiking, camping, paddle boarding and rafting, including helping to row her family's raft on a trip through the Grand Canyon. With her husband, she climbed nearly half of Colorado's "14ers." She loved family camping trips and introducing her kids to the joys of nature, roasting marshmallows over the campfire, and building the perfect s'more.
After her initial cancer diagnosis at age 30, while pregnant with Makayla, she continued to enthusiastically embrace life. Thanks to the generosity of First Descents, she learned surfing in North Carolina, enjoyed trekking in Iceland, and most importantly formed meaningful and lasting relationships with members of the survivor community. Following her re-diagnosis in 2018, she continued to maintain as active a lifestyle as her health would allow, including (but not limited to) an anniversary adventure to Costa Rica and a family trip to Universal Studios in Orlando along with a cruise (thank you to The Dear Jack Foundation).
Emily managed her condition with courage, dignity, and grace. She left a letter for her family in which she said:
"The good thing is that I had an amazing 40 years, had SO many adventures, and I achieved everything I wanted to: I explored the world, fell in love, had a great job, and had the two sweetest, loving, kind, smart, beautiful children in the world. I couldn't have asked for anything else."
Our grief is tempered by memories of Emily's amazing strength and spirit. She will continue to serve as our example of how to live a committed, engaged life.
Emily is survived by her husband, Scott, children Makayla and Caden, parents David and Sheila, brother Ben (Elizabeth)Schneider, Aunts Cheryl Taylor and Sharon Single, in-laws Bill and Lynne Nebel, brother-in-law Ryan (Claudia Dubón) Nebel, and nephews Miles and Grant Schneider and Lucas Nebel.
Emily loved the following quote from Natalie Babbitt and wrote in a letter before her death that she thought she had achieved it: "Do not fear death, but rather the unlived life. You don't have to live forever. You just have to live."
A celebration of Emily's life will be held this spring or summer, if in-person participation is possible. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
to be notified.
Donations in Emily's memory may be made to any of the following:
• The Dear Jack Foundationhttps://www.dearjackfoundation.org
• First Descentshttps://firstdescents.org