Janet Kathryn Nelson 84, of Standish, Maine passed away on April 9, 2021 in West Chester, PA at the home of daughter Nancy and son-in-law Glenn Crosen. Throughout her brave and graceful fight against a long illness, she was visited, comforted and entertained by her family, granddaughters Kelsey Osborne, Megan and Molly Crosen, son Jim, wife Tracey, grandchildren Mackenzie and Bennett Nelson and great granddaughter Fiona Osborne as well as many family and close friends from her childhood home of Avon Lake, Ohio and adopted home of Cumberland, Maine.
Janet was born on October 7, 1936 in Cleveland, Ohio to parents Irene and Wilbur Best. She attended Avon Lake High School where she grew close to her future husband, Gerald Arthur Nelson. Following high school, she pursued a path in education, attending Bowling Green State University before having to return to Avon Lake after the death of her father.
The Nelsons married in Avon Lake, OH November 19, 1957. After the birth of their daughter Nancy, Janet soon moved to Columbus, OH, joining Jerry while he pursued a degree in veterinary medicine at Ohio State University. With the birth of their son Jim, Janet helped support her growing family by teaching parochial school and opening a home daycare service for college mothers’ babies and toddlers until they returned to Avon Lake after Jerry’s graduation in 1965. It was during this time that Janet suffered the loss of daughters Jill, Jim’s twin sister, and later, Karen, at infancy from unusual childbirth complications. A move to neighboring Avon, Ohio followed where Janet and Jerry welcomed adopted son Frank Henry.
Janet loved to travel, crossing the country several times with Jerry. In 1973, after vacations to Maine, the two picked up and moved there with their three children, leaving Ohio and family for something different. From 1973 through 1993, she made a home of their 20+ acre 200-year-old farm in Cumberland Center, ME helping build a successful small animal practice together, working as vet tech and surgical assistant as well as billing and late-night cleaning service. Simultaneously, she cared for their antique farm, sizable garden, and menagerie of small and large animals while providing delicious meals, homework tutorials and transportation for her children to school activities and part-time jobs.
She was an artist and had a knack for design, painting and decorating. It was very important to her that changes and renovations would be in keeping with the home’s age and history. While doing much of the work herself, the restoration took 20 years of equal parts joy and anguish. She became an expert at wood refinishing, period varnishing, powdered paint techniques and classic stenciling with which she adorned many of the rooms in the house.
Beyond having a Julia Child-like talent for cooking, she loved to sing and was a member of the Sacred Heart Church choir in Yarmouth, Maine for over 30 years. She became involved with the church musicals where she met many of her closest friends and introduced her daughter to her future son-in-law thinking they’d be a good match adding premier matchmaker to her long list of accomplishments. She traveled with her choir through Europe, Italy and Ireland where she was excited to see the birthplaces of her Irish grandparents.
When Jerry retired, they settled into a small neighborhood on Sebago Lake in Standish, Maine where she soon made several close friends. Following Jerry’s death in 2003, Janet’s love of travel was embraced by her family who took her on trips to England, France, Scotland, Spain and Iceland. She topped off these adventures with an epic 80th birthday Baltic Sea cruise circumnavigating the Scandinavian north.
Despite her illness, Janet continued an active life. With the help of her nephew Carl Best and his wife, Angela and her granddaughter Molly, she was able to stay in her home as long as possible. As with everything in life, Janet accepted her illness in stride and pushed herself to do as much as she could for as long as she could. She greeted every day with a smile and found something to laugh about each day. She was a force of nature. Good Nature!
Janet was predeceased by her parents, brother James R. Best of Ohio, son Frank, two babies Jill and Karen and close sister-in-law, Virginia Brausch of OH among others. She is survived by son James, Tracey, Mackenzie and Bennett Nelson of California. Daughter, Nancy and Glenn Crosen. Granddaughter, Kelsey and husband Thomas and great-granddaughter, Fiona Osborne of PA. Granddaughter, Megan Crosen and fiancé Patrick Hallabeck of CT. Granddaughter, Molly Crosen and partner Brian Stanley of ME. Sisters and brothers-in-laws, Glenda and Fred Nelson and Lois and Dan Nelson of Ohio. Not to mention, her many beloved nieces, nephews and friends.
Celebrations of her life and masses will take place next summer at Sacred Heart Church in Yarmouth, Maine on July 19, 2022 at 11:00AM and in her hometown of Avon Lake, Ohio on July 22, 2022 at 10:00AM at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Janet’s favorite animal shelter, Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland, ME; PO Box 336; Westbrook, ME 04098 or to a local animal shelter or food pantry in your area.