Mary K. Nelson passed away on Wednesday, August 30, 2023, surrounded by her loving family. She was 94. Although in pain in her final days, she died peacefully in her sleep and was smiling. She was the beloved wife of 65 years, to the late Robert E. Nelson, until his passing in 2021.
Mary was born on February 14, 1929 in Möegglingen, Germany to Alois and Philomena (Lang) Kuhn. She was the oldest of five children and took on many chores to help her disabled mother and her family overall.
She graduated from university in Stuttgart, Germany in 1954 and in that same year, was approved for a resident visa to the United States. She stayed with relatives while working jobs and taking classes at the University of Buffalo. She met her future husband, Bob Nelson, through a mutual friend. Eventually Bob asked her out and on December 26, 1955 they married. She passed the naturalization exam and became an American citizen on June 22, 1959.
She was a wonderful wife, mom and grandma. She found a great balance in standing up for each of us. With regard to her children she had amazing stamina to fill our minds with classical music, work with us each day on our schoolwork, coordinate educational day trips or longer, take us to plays, musical performances, while holding our feet to the fire to ensure that we did our work, chores and treated others with kindness and respect. All while taking care of the house, taking art lessons, taking time for her parents and their needs, doing the gardening and inviting friends and family over for parties. She cleaned so well that when the pediatrician made an urgent house call (they did that in olden days,) the storm door was so clean, he couldn’t tell if there was glass in it (there was.)
She was a stay at home mother for 10 years, after which she started teaching German. First at Calasanctius School, then at Saint Joe’s, Mount Saint Mary’s Academy and also taught evening classes in German as part of adult education. In her teaching, she shared her infectious enthusiasm, joy and encouragement. She never told a student that the student was wrong. Instead, she led the student to figure out the correct answer. She continued to take her students to additional events such as plays and performances, or even lunch, to give them something else to be inspired about.
She organized and ran trips to Germany for her students and helped to get funding by holding Oktoberfests. She taught her students while speaking German only, which earned her a nickname of Nur Deutsch (only German.) The high school and junior high school students learned German literature. They acted plays, recited poems and sang songs for a competition at Saint Bonaventure in Olean. Not all students took the German Advanced Placement test, but everyone in her classes who took it, passed.
She taught beyond her boss’s expectations. One wrote that he saw what she had in her curricula and didn’t think that her students could do it, but they did. He wrote that if he hadn’t seen it for himself, he wouldn’t have believed it. Her methods were not conventional, to say the least. She was active in the American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) and one year was awarded one of the top ten German teachers in the country.
The students love her to this day. She smiled with twinkling eyes that would melt any heart. Well, she lights up everyone’s heart.
She loved people; family, friends, colleagues, students, their parents, neighbors, parishioners and priests. She opened her home to everyone, especially after she retired. After daily Mass, she would announce that she would be serving apple pancakes at home, who wants to come over? And they did. She baked strudels for friends and for fundraisers, crocheted countless lap robes for sick patients and threw parties for all of her friends and family who would come.
She was deeply faithful. She would take responsibility for Eucharistic Adoration at Saint Gregory the Great’s at 2AM each night after she retired. She went to daily Mass, prayed the Rosary daily and lived her values, opening her heart, her help and her home to anyone.
Mary is survived and will be deeply missed by her daughter, Winifred Nelson of Tyngsborough; her son, Peter Nelson and his wife Cindy of Buffalo, NY; her four grandchildren, Xela, Troy, Althea and Bela; her sister, Agnes Kuhn of Wilmington, Delaware; as well as many loving nieces and nephews.
She is predeceased by her daughter, Beryl E. Nelson, who passed away in 2015.
Relatives and friends are invited to Mary’s Celebration of Life on Friday, September 15, 2023 from 5PM until 7PM at the WESTFORD HEALY FUNERAL HOME, 57 N. Main Street, Westford. Her Funeral Mass will be celebrated on Saturday at 9AM at BLESSED TRINITY PARISH-ST CATHERINE OF ALEXANDRIA CHURCH, 107 N. Main Street, Westford. Burial to follow in St. Catherine Cemetery, Westford. Following burial, all are invited to join back with the family at the Princeton Station, 147 Princeton Street, Chelmsford for 11AM. In memory of Mary, the family asks that for her love of her heritage and hosting parties, that you either host or attend an Oktoberfest party.
Her Funeral Mass may be viewed at the following link: https://client.tribucast.com/tcid/2786274926