Shirley May Nelson
1928 - 2020
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December 7, 1928 ˜ July 6, 2020

Shirley May (Reese) Nelson was born at home on Rooney Road in Ridgefield, WA to Charles and Amelia Reese on December 7, 1928 and she passed from this life on July 6, 2020. Shirley grew up in a very rural Ridgefield, a time when the street you lived on was named after the family that first resided there. Shirley attended two-room Baker Grade School through eighth grade, as did her father before her, and her children after her. At that time, the I-5 freeway did not exist, and Shirley walked a half mile each way to school. She had never set foot in the town of Ridgefield before entering Ridgefield High School. Her family did all of their shopping at Serv-U-Well store which had a soda fountain, groceries, medicines, clothing, animal feed and gas. Shirley was in high school before the Reese family had indoor plumbing and telephone (a 16-party line).
When Shirley was around 12, the Clark County Sun newspaper, now the Columbian, had a contest to sell subscriptions. She won a bike for her sales, which she was thrilled with and rode up and down her road every day she could. When she married, she left the bike at home for her youngest brother Charles who rode it many more miles before its demise. She recalled her most memorable birthday was her 13th, when relatives showed up to tell them that Pearl Harbor had been attacked, and they ended up staying for her birthday dinner.
Shirley married her high school sweetheart, Lloyd Warren Nelson in 1948. Together they raised five children in Ridgefield a community she was clearly grounded in, never living more than five miles from the home where she was born. Shirley played both piano and violin and often played piano, singing “Carolina Moon” to her children. When her children were young, Shirley was a Brownie Scout leader, a Cub Scout den mother, a PTA president, a member of the Vancouver Jaycees service club, and a volunteer in both school and her church. At 91 1/2 years, Shirley was a parishioner of St. Mary’s for more years than anyone else in the parish.
On their ten acres, Shirley and Lloyd planted, hoed, and harvested strawberries. At the same time, she picked, canned, and froze fruits and vegetables every summer and helped her father with his strawberries and blackberries. She eventually mastered the walkie talkie and “the glare look” required for strawberry and bean field bossing. Once the baby was in school, Shirley was hired as a teacher’s aide and later was the school secretary for South Ridge Elementary School, from which she retired after 25 years. During their retirement, Lloyd and Shirley enjoyed their many trips around the country and to Anderson Island with their friends Ben and LaRene Wray. They also loved to dig clams on the Long Beach Peninsula with her brother Don and his wife Dolly and they loved the annual Nelson family campout.
Shirley was predeceased in death by Lloyd, her husband of over 71 years, as well as her brothers Harvey, Donald, and Charles.
She leaves behind her five children, Jeff Nelson (Marti), Julie Grimm (Jack), Valorie Pitts (Mike), Teresa Duling (Bill), and Cynthia Greear (Ralph), 14 grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren.
Like Lloyd, Shirley was beloved, respected, appreciated and cherished by her entire family. We have endless gratitude for knowing her and sharing her life.
Thank you to Hospice for their support and care.
Remembrances in Shirley’s name may be made to Malawi Kindergarten Project.
Due to the pandemic, a private funeral Rosary will be held July 17th at 10:30 a.m., followed by Mass at 11:00 a.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Ridgefield. Committal will follow at St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery at approximately 12:30 p.m. for any who would like to attend. For everyone’s health and safety, the family requests the use of social distancing.
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Published in The Columbian on Jul. 12, 2020.
10:30 AM
St. Mary’s Catholic Church
11:00 AM
St. Mary’s Catholic Church
Memories & Condolences
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5 entries
July 20, 2020
So sorry to hear of your loss. I just found out about Shirley's passing this weekend. Our hearts ache and we will miss your mother. At least know your parents are together again. Our deepest condolences to the family.
Jim Rinta
July 17, 2020
Dear Val, Julie, Jeff, Teresa, Cindy and families,
Thinking of you all during this time of grief. May your happy memories of your Mom help to ease your pain. I have many fond memories of times at the Nelson house and was priviledged to have shared in such a special family life. So sorry we will miss the burial service. Know my love and tribute are there for your Mom!
I will see your Mother's smile and feel her kind and generous heart always,

Virtual hugs to all, Cathy
Cathy Claiborne
July 15, 2020
❤We are both honored to have known Shirley and I always loved the good times at the Nelsons. She was such a faith filled woman and earned the respect of her family and many friends. Our prayers, for each of you, are to help you get through those times you miss her the very most❤
Jerry & Betty Johnson
July 15, 2020
My sincere sympathies go to the Nelson family after the loss of their mother. They were regular members at St. Marys and we attended catechism and Mass together with Jeff and Julie. May all the happy memories of her help you through the grief of her passing.
Kevin Kernan
July 14, 2020
She welcomed all who came to South Ridge Elementary. She was the hub of the great wheel. She was a problem solver and her smile would melt ice cream on a cold day. Her laugh was infectious. She helped young and old. She was a wealth of local history. For all the times, I did not say thanks, I say it now. My condolences to family as she was the hub.
Marjanne Robinson
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