Norma Jean Nelson

Norma Jean Nelson

Oct. 15, 1928 ~ Nov. 21, 2020

Norma J. Nelson passed away peacefully at St. Johns Medical Center with family members around her on Nov. 21, 2020. Norma was 92 years old. She was a home birth, born on Oct. 15, 1928 in Yankton, Oregon to Clint and Edith Anderson. Norma was one of six children.

In 1929 her family moved to the Mayger area and from there she grew up in a place known as the Kelly House, but to the family it was always referred to as the farm, which was fittingly located on Anderson Road, in Downing. Just after graduating from Clatskanie High School she moved to Portland and lived with her sister Neva and brother-in-law Vic Carlton. She began her working career at Meier and Frank in downtown Portland. While working there she was recruited to play on their women’s softball team. She played all over the Portland area and from her trophies left behind was quite good. Norma often times would catch a bus and come home on weekends. While attending a dance at what was called the Old Log Hall which was located on Alston Mayger Road, she met Dennis L. Nelson. On August 19, 1950 the couple were married at North Bonneville, Skamania County, Washington with her sister Lois Anderson and friend Wayne Rohl as witnesses. They had six children.

Norma and Dennis made their first home in an apartment in Rainier but raised their children mostly in the Delena area where she was active at the Delena Grade School. Norma would often be called in to substitute for playground duty, cooking for the lunch program and filling in for the secretary. She also was an active member of the PTA (Parent Teacher Association). Helping with many annual fund raisers, events such as Turkey Dinners, Carnivals and the Haunted house. When Dennis and Norma decided to buy the business (Franks Electric) which they renamed Dennis Electric the two of them worked as partners. Dennis did the scheduling, estimating and physical electrical work and Norma did the accounting and collections. They worked together on this until Dennis passed away in 1986. Norma was also proud to be a permanent fixture as a poll worker for the local elections. Her and her best friend Ethyle Nelson would be there to accept and verify ballots for the elections, but while there, they took the opportunity to catch up with their neighbors.

Norma’s life revolved around her parents, children, grandchildren and her friendships. There is nothing Norma would not do for her family. If it wasn’t for Norma most likely her children would not have known the rewards of raising animals that came to live on their farm.

She was an avid supporter of those in the family that participated in sports. It was through these many hours on the bleachers watching her kids that she got to know many of the other mothers that turned into lifelong friends. Norma often times watching from her car would blast the horn when “her” team did something outstanding. Also, as she would sit in the bleachers you could hear her yell, “run you little bugger, run.” She also made it out on the golf course several times, she loved riding around in the golf cart. She was known to yell out ‘Whoop, Whoop or, that was a dandy” when there was a good hit off the tee, or the final putt went in the hole. She was also an avid fan of the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle Mariners.

Norma had mad baking skills, she was well known for her lemon meringue pies (all pies) with the beautifully detailed crusts, cakes and her chain saw pancakes. She also invented the “Nelson” portion of ice cream (extra-large).

She joined The Grandmothers Bowling League which as it turned out she was also quite good at and she loved it with a passion. She could be spotted with a big smile on her face giving high fives for spares or double high fives for strikes. She was in her element for sure. Many of the women she bowled with said she was an inspiration.

What Norma was most proud of when it came to her accomplishments was being a caregiver through the end-of-life process for her mother, father, mother-in-law and sister-in-law.

Norma was very social, at times after her kids were raised it felt like she spent more time on the road with activities scheduled daily than she did at home. She never turned down an opportunity for lunch with friends or family. She was well known for her welcoming smile, her sense of humor, and her fierce independence. When you left her house, you never got out the door without a warm hug and she would say one of two things, one was “come back again when you can stay a little while,” or recently she would say, “Enjoy Life the Best You Can.”

She was proceeded in death by her husband Dennis L. Nelson; parents, Clint and Edith Anderson; brother Donald E. Anderson; and sisters, Dorothy Olson (Clatskanie), Neva Carlton (Portland), and Lois Ennis (Gresham).

She is survived by her brother Lowell Anderson of Lacey, Washington; sister-in-law Beverly Rea; children, Dennis A. (Katie) Nelson of Vernonia, Ronald W. Nelson, Richard A. Nelson, and Karen D. Nelson all of Clatskanie, Kathryn D. (Alan) McGlone and William J. Nelson both of Rainier; five grandchildren; six great grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews. Norma was never happier than when she was surrounded by kids. She will be greatly and forever missed.

In the spring, when we can gather safely outdoors, there will be a celebration of life in her honor.

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