Betty Lou Smith Nelson of Durham, NC, passed from this earthly life on Wednesday, 29 March 2017, at Hospice Home in Burlington, NC.
Born in Gary, IN, on 30 October 1925, the daughter of Freda (Mader) and Paul R. Smith, she spent most of her childhood in Fort Dodge, IA, before moving with her family to Sheridan, WY, where she finished high school. While a student at the University of Wyoming, she met Paul Nelson, whom she cherished as her husband for 63 years. Betty Lou was the most loving and supportive of wives and a devoted mother who created a gracious home for her family wherever her husband’s career as an Army pilot took them. Betty Lou’s spirit of adventure, zest for living, and willingness to consider new ways of looking at the world remained with her until the very end of her life, as did her passions for the natural world, music, art and books.
Betty Lou lived her life as an expression of her unshakable belief in God. With grace and humility she shared unconditional love with her family, friends and everyone she encountered. She greeted each new day joyfully and slept peacefully each night, secure in her faith. All who knew her will miss her radiant smile, her warmth and welcoming personality, and her ability to brighten one’s day merely by being present.
Betty Lou is survived by her daughter Ilene Nelson and son Bruce Nelson; granddaughters Sophia Nelson, Jessica (Erick) Hughes, and Erin (Matt) Parrotte; great-grandchildren Caden Nelson, Felix Hughes, and Piper and Rori Parrottte; the children of her brothers, Paul Jr., Richard and Alan, who pre-deceased her; great-nieces and nephews; and Verona Smith, her dearest sister-in-law and best friend.
There will be a celebration of Betty Lou’s life on Saturday, 22 April 2017, at 2:00pm at Watts Street Baptist Church in Durham. Her ashes will be interred with her husband’s at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.
The family is grateful to UNC Hospice and Hospice and Palliative Care Center of Alamance-Caswell for their compassionate care of Betty Lou in her final illness. Memorials in Betty Lou’s name may be made to them or to the Watts Street Baptist Church’s Good Shepherd Window Restoration Fund.