EllaRae MacDonald Nelson, 88
On Feb. 16, 2018, EllaRae MacDonald Nelson passed peacefully from this life surrounded by family and friends. We were all blessed to have known her and we benefited from her love and example during her 88 plus years on this earth.
EllaRae was born in Great Falls, Mont., to Glenna and Walter “Mac” MacDonald on Sept. 23, 1929. She was proud to be a born-and-bred native Montanan and lived in Great Falls almost her entire 88 years. She is preceded in death by her son, Jerry. She is survived by her sons, Stephen (Jodi) Nelson, Jeffrey (Diane) Nelson and Keith Nelson; sisters, Elaine Thompson and Eunice Courtice and brother, Russell (Susan) MacDonald. Also surviving her are three grandsons, five granddaughters and six great-grandchildren, along with numerous nieces, nephews and their families. She also leaves behind many friends and church family who fondly called her Ma Nelson or Grandma.
The gold standard of charity and compassion, EllaRae lived by example and invited many into her home who needed a meal or a place to stay for a day, the weekend or however long was needed. She was liberal with love and fair with discipline. The rule in her house was: It doesn’t matter who started it; you all get whacked with the wooden spoon.
Our mom had an excellent sense of humor and always had a song on her lips and in her heart. If she could not remember the words, she substituted “wa-wa-wa” to everyone’s chagrin or amusement. Church choir was a joy, and a variety of music always filled the home. A lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she made friends with, and was of service to many, and everyone loved her. She held callings in the Great Falls, Mont., Stake and Portage Ward.
EllaRae raised four boys and bank-rolled everyone on her five dollar per week budget. She rarely spent money on herself, preferring to buy necessities or entertainment for her boys.
Once her boys were teenagers, EllaRae decided it was time to go back to work. She, of course, got a job in the high-school cafeteria. Ma Nelson quickly became everyone’s Mom, which made it easy for her to keep tabs on her boys, who could no longer use the excuse, “I was hanging out at a friend’s,” because those “friends” would have already ratted them out. Reprimands were delivered when she filled our lunch trays at 12:40 p.m., along with extra potatoes for those who informed on us.
EllaRae worked a variety of jobs, the longest of which was at Phillips Podiatry-Dr Clough’s Office, to provide college and meager living funds. While she lived in Great Falls, she was closely watched over by her grandniece, Katie, and son, Keith.
In June 2016, declining health prevented her from living alone in the home where she’d lived for 67 years. She relocated to Coeur d’Alene where two of her smart boys who married nurses live. From then until she passed on Feb. 16, 2018, they all shared her and watched over her.
A memorial and graveside will be held in Great Falls, Mont. on June 2, 2018.
The Nelson family dearly appreciates all communication and thanks you for honoring a wonderful mother, friend, and person.
Hospice of North Idaho dedicated the utmost reverent, caring, and professional service in mom’s last days and we are moved by this organization helping families transition loved ones to the next life.
In lieu of flowers, please donate in EllaRae’s honor.
Yates Funeral Homes has been entrusted with the care of final arrangements. Please visit EllaRae’s memorial and sign her online guestbook www.yatesfuneralhomes.com.