Ann Elizabeth Nelson, age 91, passed away Tuesday, May 8, 2012, culminating a life filled with hard work, adventure, and, most importantly, family. She was born July 28, 1920 in Sedro-Woolley, Washington to Avery and Etta (Robinson) Stiles.
Ann grew up in the Skagit Valley, playing catcher on the softball team before graduating from Sedro-Woolley High School in 1938. She married Frank Gee just before the beginning of World War II. During that time, when many of the men were serving in the war, she worked in the logging industry as a whistle punk, sounding the steam whistle to communicate about logging activities. Frank preceded her in death in 1943.
On November 26, 1947, Ann married Stanley Nelson Jr., owner of Nelson Chevrolet in Sedro-Woolley. In 1951 they, together, built the home that would become the center for family gatherings. Then called the Nelson Hereford Ranch, and now called Foothills Farm, over the years they raised cattle, riding horses, racehorses, Ann’s flourishing vegetable garden, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Ann left her mark on many things, but especially the Annual 4th of July celebration and the heirloom tarheel beans cultivated from seeds given to her by her mother from Sylva, NC.
In 1958, Stan and Ann moved their family to Seattle to run Nelson Chevrolet in Ballard when Stan Nelson Sr. retired.. The Nelson Family is one of the oldest and largest automotive families in the Northwest. As the matriarch, she promoted that all her children grow and maintain the family businesses. With her support and guidance, all 4 children have owned and operate automobile dealerships today. She was especially adamant that her daughters take leadership roles alongside her husband and son. Currently her daughters own and operate Acura of Bellevue and Foothills Toyota Scion in Burlington. She always talked about the business and her wisdom and vision helped guide the family businesses through the challenging economic times of the past few years. She was featured in The Puget Sound Dealer Magazine in the Fall of 2007 as “a Matriarch of the Auto Industry, with the quote “You can do anything you want. Never give up.””
The family continued to split their time, spending weekends and summers at the farm, and building a strong presence in the Seattle community. Ann was a great Husky and Mariner fan, longtime supporter of the Seattle Milk Fund, and member of the Puget Sound Syndicate Investment Club and the Washington Athletic Club.
Throughout her life, Ann maintained a sense of adventure, always trying new things and improving on what had come before. She holds the record for the largest deer killed by a woman in Sedro-Woolley and she once bowled a 299 game. Ann loved horses and even rode one on her 90th birthday. She was always full of advice for her children and grandchildren, and encouraged them both personally and professionally. Her home and her kitchen were always warm and welcoming, full of good food, cheer and love. She was a wonderful model of beauty and strength. Her amazing smile and kind heart will never be forgotten.
She is survived by four children; Stanley Nelson III and wife Robin of Seattle, Barbara Nelson and husband James Bradshaw of Seattle, Fredricka Nelson Bolinger and husband Charlie of Woodinville, and Pamela Nelson and husband Tom Strotkamp of Sedro-Woolley. Eleven grandchildren; Ann-Margaret Nelson Johnson, Stanley Nelson IV, Hilaree Nelson O’Neill, Robert Sesnon, Nelson Haldane, David Bolinger, Liz King, Ericka Sisolak, Charlie Bolinger, and Matt & Tyler Steinman and seven great-grandchildren. Her brother, William Stiles and wife Betty of Sedro-Woolley, sister, Faye Jenson of Salem, OR, and sister-in-law, Bliss Nelson Miller of Bellevue and numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Stanley Jr., brother Louie Stiles, and two sisters, Helen Berg and Mabel Cline.
The family would like to extend a special thank you for the care given to Ann by Dr. Werner Samson, Sherry Turner, and the medical staff at the University of Washington Medical Center. A Celebration of Life will be held Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 2:00PM at Foothills Farm on 25292 Hoehn Rd in Sedro-Woolley. Memorials are suggested to Sedro-Woolley High School Alumni Association, Seattle Milk Fund 1130 N Northgate Way Seattle, WA 98133 or Seattle Children’s M/S S200 PO Box 5371Seattle, WA 98145=5005. Arrangements and Services under the care of Lemley Chapel, Sedro-Woolley.