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Life Story / Obituary
Jean E. Nelson was a strong and loving woman, though she neither verbalized her affection nor considered hard work to be anything less than her duty. She provided for her family and contributed to the life of her church. When she traveled, it was to visit family, and when she had free time, she often spent it helping others.
Jean was born April 17, 1930 in Chicago Heights, Illinois just a few months after the U.S. stock market crash. Americans felt the impact of economic depression yet managed to make life pleasant in the midst of harsh conditions by their resilient spirit and hopeful outlook.
The youngest child of Roscoe and Elizabeth (Truntz) Cannon, Jean grew up with four brothers and two sisters in South Chicago Heights. Young Jean was a skinny child who loved to read, and in adulthood she found joy in reading many Christian authors. A high school graduate, Jean continued to nurture her language skills with crossword puzzles. In fact, she was known to sleep with a note pad beside her bed so that, if she awoke with a word on her mind, she could write it down and work on it later. Not surprisingly, the game show Jeopardy became a stimulating challenge to Jean, and those around her knew not to disrupt her when she was watching it.
Jean’s other interests included knitting, crocheting, traveling, playing Solitaire (she wore out three decks of cards), listening to music on local radio and volunteering at her church. Jean as raised Methodist, but when Lawton Evangelical Mennonite Church was started, she joined as one of its charter members. She taught Sunday school, helped establish the church library and contributed in many other ways over the years. She liked to relax in her rocking chair with a cup of tea (just a touch of cream) and in her younger years, a glass of wine. Like many tea-drinkers, she enjoyed the smell of coffee but couldn’t stand the taste.
Jean had married William George Nelson on March 18, 1950 in Cassopolis, Michigan and raised three boys. Her golf-playing husband was a farmer in Marcellus and worked at Eaton’s in Lawton before transferring to a second location. Jean did clerical work until they both decided that it was more critical that she attend to their boys at home. She later went back to work after the death of her husband. Sadly, William died in October of 1982 while undergoing a surgical procedure, and in September of 1993, Jean lost her son Steven in an automobile accident. For the family, those challenging years did much to instill the values of hard work, frugality and a simple lifestyle. Gratefully, her sons David and Paul were still at home and they enjoyed living with her, especially since Jean did most of the cooking. She was a good provider and took care of all the finances.
For many years, Jean was employed by Vineyard Press in Paw Paw. When she retired in 1995, she still led an active life, but later diabetes curtailed her activities and the onset of cataracts made it difficult for her to read. With a recent diagnosis of cancer, Jean could not know its rapid progression over the ensuing few months, but she was prepared to see her husband and to be with her Lord.
Jean E. Nelson, age 85, of Lawton, Michigan died January 18, 2016 at Bronson Commons, Mattawan. She was preceded in death by her husband, William Nelson in 1982 and by her son, Steven Nelson in 1993. Surviving are 2 sons: David and Paul Nelson; sister, Norma Hovey; sisters-in-law and several nieces and nephews. Services will take place Monday 11am at Lawton EMC followed by a luncheon in the church hall. Burial 2pm at Oak Grove Cemetery, Lawton. Please visit Jean’s personal web page at www.lifestorynet.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her online guestbook. Memorial donations may be made to Lawton EMC. Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler & Thompson – Paw Paw, 60900 M-40; 269-657-3870