Joan Nelson

Mom was a constant and encouraging presence.

Our sweet mother, Joan Elizabeth (Susie) Nelson, passed away peacefully on February 17, 2022, at the age of 84.

She was born in Seattle, Washington, on March 8, 1937, to Angus and Ruth (Juengst) McLeod. Susie spent her early years in Burien where she attended Sunnydale Elementary. In 1950, at age 12, she moved with her family to Vashon Island.

It was on Vashon that she met and married her high school sweetheart, Jay (George/Junior) Nelson. Together, they raised four daughters: Laurie (Sam Shaw), Jennifer (David Peterson), Peggy (Pat Kelleher), and Elizabeth (David Robert).

Joan was extremely active in her youth and all her years. She learned Highland dance and participated in competitions in the Seattle region. She was involved in many clubs and activities while attending Vashon High School. Her close friendships with all her VHS classmates were steadfast until her passing. Joan attended Whitworth College and later enrolled at CWCE (CWU). After marrying Junior Nelson, on April 28, 1956, she was busy raising her family on the ranch. Mom’s hospitality was renowned. The multitude of family, friends, and acquaintances passing through was made welcome, be it a meal, a place to stay, or a cup of coffee. She made the ranch/house a home, a place where people gravitated and life-long friendships and relationships took root and continued to grow over the years.

Mom was actively involved in Chapter BF of PEO, Study Club, Bridge Club, Rigadoon, Scholarship Luncheons, and Kittitas County Cowbelles (now Cattlewomen). Her “Crazy Ladies” friends of 50+ years were treasured friendships. They had adventures every week (which she diligently chronicled), be it skiing, hiking, exploring the local landscape, or traveling abroad. These were cherished moments and memories.

Family and home were the centers of her life. Mom was a constant and encouraging presence. She especially loved following and attending the many and diverse activities of her children, grandchildren and, recently, her great-grandchildren. She appreciated and never turned down opportunities to explore new places, people, and possibilities. Tales of her abundant spirited adventures will continue to be told with fond memories. Mom was a devoted wife, loving mother, and loyal friend. With her sunny smile, she warmly welcomed everyone to her home. Mom was known for her positive outlook, sensitivity, generosity, hospitality, and kindness. Dad wrote she had a “sparkling personality” and “true character.”

Besides her four daughters, she is survived by grandchildren, Jocelyn Fenner (Steven), Kyle Sloan, Hallie Peterson, Meriel Peterson, Kathleen Kelleher (Nick Zito), Joseph (Brittni) Kelleher, Michael Kelleher, Mary Kelleher and Jessie Mary Robert, Lydia Robert, and great-grandchildren, Thomas Jay, Evelyn Joan, and Logan Gray. She is also survived by brothers, Ian, Alec, and Angus McLeod. She was preceded in death by her husband, parents, and brother, Donald McLeod.

A Memorial Service will be held on April 23, 2022, at 1:00 pm at the Ellensburg Presbyterian Church. Memorials in Joan’s name can be made to Gretchen Weller Foundation (, Virginia Mason Foundation (, or charity of choice.

Online condolences may be made to the family at