Mary Jane Nelson, 95

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Mary Jane Nelson

Sept. 3, 1922 – Jan. 21, 2018

Mary Jane Nelson passed away peacefully in her sleep on Jan. 21, 2018, at age 95, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. She enjoyed a long, productive and independent life right up to the end.

Mary Jane was born on Sept. 3, 1922, to Nels Theodore “Ted” and Minnie Mabel Parker Nelson, in Kunze, N.D. She was the third of five children. Shortly after her birth, the family moved to a farm in New England, N.D. As a child, Mary Jane attended a one-room rural schoolhouse through eighth grade. She went on to graduate as class valedictorian from New England High School in 1940. After graduation, Mary Jane attended Interstate Business College in Fargo, N.D., to pursue a career in accounting. In 1942 Mary Jane moved to Los Angeles, Calif., landing her first job in the accounting department of prestigious Hughes Aircraft. Most of her career was spent as the office manager and bookkeeper for a large plumbing supply company in Los Angeles. She kept impeccable financial records, a skill that carried on throughout her life.

Mary Jane loved the southern California lifestyle. Her apartments in Inglewood and Torrance are fondly remembered for their tropical landscaping and turquoise swimming pools. When not in Los Angeles, she spent many weekends at her widowed mother’s home in Fullerton where she helped with yard work, housework and trips to the grocery store.

A highlight of Mary Jane’s life was a four-month tour of Europe in 1958 with her sister, Abbe. Mary Jane recounted how she purchased in advance her new Karmann Ghia sports car from a dealer in San Francisco, then picked the vehicle up in Germany. The sisters traveled first to England and Norway, moving southward through France, Spain and Italy, before returning to the United States through the Panama Canal via Italian freighter. The journey was well photographed and the slideshow was the entertainment at many family gatherings in later years.

Though Mary Jane did not marry or have children, she was often surrounded by the company of many friends and family. One of her favorite activities was reading. As with all four of the Nelson sisters, her love for reading books was fostered at a young age on the farm in N.D. and continued through her golden years. She especially enjoyed staying current on world affairs and read two newspapers cover to cover every morning. Crafts, needlepoint, jigsaw puzzles and cooking were other activities she enjoyed. In 2000 Mary Jane and her sister Abbe moved from southern California to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, to be closer to family. The two sisters were inseparable until Abbe’s death in 2015.

Mary Jane’s quick wit and sharp mind will never be forgotten. She was preceded in death by her parents, Ted and Minnie; elder sisters, Shirley Nelson Wicklund and Abbe Rae Nelson and younger sister, Dorothy Elizabeth “Bette” Nelson Werner. She is survived by her brother, Theodore “Ted” Parker Nelson and ten nieces and nephews, Curtis and Roger Wicklund, Scott, Whitney, Nelson, Eric and Amy Jane Werner, Diane Nelson Spickert, Laura Nelson Kasperowicz and Wayde Nelson.

In keeping with Abbe and Mary Jane’s wishes, their remains will be reunited with their parents at Melrose Abbey Memorial Park in Anaheim, Calif.

Visit Mary Jane’s memorial and sign her online guestbook at

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