Doris Helen Nelson (James) passed away peacefully in her sleep on July 17, 2017 at Benefis Hospital in Great Falls at the age of 87. She was diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer four weeks earlier after which she soon became symptomatic and quickly declined.
Doris was born to David and Lillian James in Havre, Montana on October 10, 1929. She attended Joplin schools graduating from high school in 1947. After graduation, she attended Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota for one year before returning home to marry her high school sweetheart, Fred Nelson. Doris and Fred married in 1949, purchased Fred’s father’s farm and started farming and raising their family. They had five children together, Ken, Larry, Tracy, Rhonda, and Lonna. The family worked hard both farming and ranching.
Doris married Jack Nelson in 1969 and they soon had her youngest child, Jennifer. The family lived in the town of Joplin where Doris became an active member of the community. She worked as the secretary for Bethel Lutheran Church and the bookkeeper for Nelson Farms and James Farms for many decades. Doris was a member of her church’s circle group, Democratic Women, Bethel Quilters, the hospital auxiliary, and Eastern Star. She was the first woman to run and be elected to the Joplin school board. She served 20 years on the board, 10 of which she was the chairwoman. She and Jack were two of the original founders of the Joplin Memorial Park and spent many hours creating and maintaining the beautiful site that exists today. She was also one of the original founders of Joplin’s Art in the Park.
Doris has had several hobbies and activities she has enjoyed through the years: playing cards and board games, croqueting blankets for family members, and most anything that brought her friends and family together. She was very devoted to her church. In her later years, one of her greater joys was serving with the Bethel Quilters creating quilts for those in need around the world.
Doris had many friends, many of whom were life long, but she was open hearted and loved acquiring new friends, often being a friendly face to newcomers in town. She loved her family. Her mother was her best friend and she was a devoted daughter and caregiver of her parents until their deaths. She loved and was loved by her six children and many grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
She is preceded in death by her parents, her husband, Jack Nelson, and sister, Dorathy Keough. She is survived by her six children, 13 grandchildren, 16 great grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild. She is also survived by her brother, Lysle James, and her sister, Angela Eldridge.
Her memorial service will be held at Bethel Lutheran Church this Saturday, July 22, at 2pm. A luncheon will follow. Memorial donation may be made to the Bethel Lutheran Church or Joplin Memorial Park.