Memorial service this Saturday for Bette Nelson, 1954-2013

This Saturday, family and friends of former West Seattle and White Center resident Bette Nelson, gone too soon at 59, will gather at Highland Park United Methodist Church to celebrate her life. Here’s the remembrance we were asked to share:

Elizabeth (Bette) Ann Nelson * 6-25-1954 to 10-4-2013

Bette died suddenly on October 4th at her beloved residence in Burien. A remarkable presence in the lives of many, she leaves a lasting impression with all. She always had a positive outlook through the most difficult times and never complained. She loved to laugh and brought joy to all with her stories. Above all, she had boundless Faith to guide her life.

Bette was born on June 25, 1954 in Stanley, North Dakota. Her father Tollef worked in the oil fields and her mother Bonita was a school teacher. Bette was the 3rd of four children, along with Byron (Teri), Stuart (Maureen), and Dan (Jeanette). She also left behind her nieces: Michelle (John), Jaimi, and Meghan and nephews Kristopher and Mitchell, stepchildren Alicia and David, and grand-nephews Jacob and Joshua.

The family lived in northern Minnesota during the early years near Bette’s mother’s parents, who were a strong presence in the family.

In 1957 Tollef relocated to Seattle in search of employment – soon followed by the remainder of the family.

The first home was in White Center (and the family immediately joined the United Methodist church on 9th Ave SW, which became a major influence throughout the remainder of Bette’s life). Later the family moved to the Highland Park area. It was at this location that Bette met what were to become lifelong friends, including Shelley Dunkin, Marcia Hopkins, and many others.

She is a 1972 graduate of Chief Sealth High school. Following school Bette worked in the building industry as a building-supply estimator and was a major driving force in the company office. During this time she supplemented her formal education with ongoing specialized job-related education. Later in life she worked at the White Center McLendon’s, where she befriended another group of lifelong friends.

In the late 1990s, Bette moved to Burien and established yet another group of good friends (including Shane Wilson, her nearest neighbor).

Around 2008, Bette faced a major health issue which she took on with her typical response – i.e. an all-out effort on her own terms. She went to almost all her doctor appointments on her own as she did not want to inconvenience anyone. An intensely private person, Bette did not let this health setback dominate her life and she chose not to share many of the details of her hardships with friends and family. She made an extraordinary recovery and the last few years saw her return to remarkable health and vibrancy. Just this summer she was able to celebrate the 5-year anniversary of this victory.

Bette was willing to try any activity her friends and family proposed. She was a fast learner and mastered most of these challenges. Skiing, however, was not one of those successes. When some friends and her brothers took her skiing (without any lessons) and loaded her on the nearest chairlift, she was gung-ho to take on the challenge. But once she started downhill she quickly realized there were a few skills no one had bothered to help her with. About halfway down, she decided that walking was a better alternative…. Later on the way home, she shared with her skiing companions how much she (didn’t) appreciate their little joke. Ultimately, all was forgiven and Bette went on weekend (and longer) trips with family including go-kart racing at the ocean, attending a concert in Vancouver, Canada, camping at Lake Tahoe, Nevada, hiking/ camping in the Skagit valley, and recently a trip to Florida to visit with family.

Family was very important to Bette. Not just her immediate family, but the many friends she adopted as family. Every year she looked forward to and helped schedule all birthday and holiday get-togethers. She never missed any of these events, always came with thoughtful gifts, and followed up with heartfelt thank-yous to the host after the party.

Bette had several groups of friends and was extremely loyal to all of them. When Bette shared stories of what she was doing with her other friends, we were thrilled that she brought us into another part of her life – for she was a very private person who carefully chose what stories she shared about her friends and family. She led a life rich in what mattered most: loving, honest relationships with a wide range of friends.

Services will be Saturday, 11:00 am, October 19, at Highland Park United Methodist Church, 9001 9th Ave SW. Please see the Bette Nelson Memorial page on Facebook.

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2 Replies to "Memorial service this Saturday for Bette Nelson, 1954-2013"

  • miws October 15, 2013 (9:57 pm)

    I had the privilege of working with Bette at McLendons several years ago, and the even greater privilege of being her friend.


    We were actually hospitalized at the same time in Highline’s CCU/ICU back in the summer of 2008, with our individual serious illnesses.


    I hadn’t seen Bette for quite awhile, but have kept in touch with her via Facebook, for the last couple of years or so. I did have the pleasure of seeing her, at another McLendon employee’s retirement party six months ago.


    Bette’s sudden passing came as such a shock, as she had been doing so well.


    She will be sorely missed…..



  • Sonoma October 16, 2013 (12:13 am)

    Sad. I didn’t know her, but she seems like just the kind of friend we all should have. Her many friends are fortunate to have known her.

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