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“Humble, genuine, The Queen Mother of West Bend” – Remembering Betty Nelson and her legacy

West Bend, WI – An honorable tribute with a bit of Broadway musical throw in was exactly what Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Nelson wanted for her funeral. Those who gathered at Fifth Avenue Methodist Church including friends, family and Pastor Clarissa Martinelli did justice to Nelson’s legacy.
“Mom loved musicals,” said son Paul Nelson. “She said, ‘There’s a great love song from the musical ‘Carousel’ and I would like that because it’s a way for me to send my love to Cliff.'”

The song, ‘If I loved You’ by Rodgers and Hammerstein was sung by Rick Gilbertson accompanied by pianist Diane Foust.


Family friend Rev. William Dushek then shared reflections of thankfulness from Betty’s family.

Rev. Dushek – “I remember I was with Betty and my wife on the second night Clifford was in the hospital. She was standing in front of me between the bed Clifford was on and I heard her say to Cliff, ‘You can’t leave me.’ I knew how much she loved him. And then I read Clifford’s autobiography and I’ll read the statement. This is from First Corinthians 13. Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud. Love is not ill mannered or selfish or irritable. Love does not keep a record of wrongs. Love is not happy with evil but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up. And its faith, hope and patience never fail. The greatest of all, is love. Betty Nelson leaves us a legacy of love.”

It is my privilege to share these reflections as expressed by her family.

Son Paul Nelson – “Betty Nelson loved people. Her love for people showed itself in her generosity. She was blessed with material comforts, and she shared those. But it was more than that. She had a generous spirit and was willing to comfort, to console, to do little things to make someone’s difficult path a little easier. She was quick to forgive, and she didn’t harbor resentments or regrets.”

Son David – “All through my youth. I remember mom was always good natured; seldom heard her complaining, was a constant source of comfort, calmness, encouragement, and loving, caring, heartfelt support. She didn’t have a mean bone in her body, and it’s hard to recall her ever being critical of others. These admirable traits stayed with her for the rest of her life. Her mastery in the kitchen was amazing. Everything was delicious and she managed to have everything at the right time. Cooking for all of us was something she really enjoyed doing. In her later years she always looked forward to her weekly dinners at the Country Club. The ladies of the roundtable dinner generally started with a large Chocolate Martini and individual straws for all the women there.”

Son Jim  – “Mom’s father Morgan, apparently could be rather critical. From that experience, Betty’s mother advised her, ‘Betty you must guard yourself against being over critical.’ Also Mom told me to always be humble and I recall mom being annoyed by those she thought were being smug.”


Songs included “Precious Lord, Take my Hand.”

The service was presided over by Rev. Clarissa Martinelli who closed saying, “Miss Betty was contagious. She infected you with her life and helped you see the light.”

Peter Gibeau wrapped up the service with a piano solo “Help Us Accept Each Other.”

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