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Barbara Louise Nelson (Sargent)

Barbara Louise Nelson (Sargent) passed away March 28th, 2014, a week after celebrating her 91st birthday.  She was born March 19th, 1923 to parents, Willis Bailey and Vera Elizabeth (Stock) Sargent in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The family, including Barbara and older brother Donald Malcolm Sargent moved to Powell, Wyoming in 1929.  Here Barbara attended school, enjoying numerous 4-H activities and commencing a life-long love of music playing in her school’s marching band.  

After graduating high school, Barbara attended the University of Wyoming in Laramie, majoring in music.  Barbara lived in a boarding house with three other girls, and each weekend they would host local servicemen for Sunday dinner.  It was at one of these Sunday dinners that she met her future husband, Neal Douglas Nelson.  In the winter of 1944, after Neal was reassigned to Chanute Field in Illinois, Barbara traveled there by train with her father, and she and Neal were married there two days before Christmas.   The couples’ first two children were born in Illinois.  After the war, Barbara and Neal moved to Cody, Wyoming, and then to Long Beach, California, where another two children were born.     

Barbara enjoyed a simple life maintaining her home and raising her children.  She pursued a love of music her entire life and served as her church’s organist for many years.  There was always a piano in the house, which she played regularly, and one of her favorite times of the week was listening with Neal to Saturday-morning opera on the radio.   She was an animal lover, and a great many dogs enjoyed a special spot in her heart, but most particularly her two Rottweilers, Frieda and Kali.  Barbara also loved to garden, despite a life-long fear of worms, and to watch basketball, maintaining a constant love/hate relationship with the Los Angeles Lakers.  She never lost her love of the mountains, and many happy family vacations were spent in Sequoia and Yellowstone.  Barbara and Neal always dreamt of leaving the city for a quieter way of life, but Neal passed away in 1994, just months before their 50th wedding anniversary.  However, when Barbara’s three daughters retired and moved to the Bitterroot Valley, she came too and loved every minute she was here. 

Barbara was a wonderful example for us all.  It was unusual to hear her speak ill of anyone, but she was no softie and could stick up for herself or her family when the need arose.   She rarely complained, despite suffering greatly in her later years from the effects of Parkinson’s disease.   She loved her children fiercely and was fond of saying, “I wouldn’t take a million bucks for any one of my kids.”  Then she would smile and add, “But I wouldn’t give you ten cents for any more like ‘em!” 

Barbara is survived by her four children, Douglas Walter Nelson of Saline, Michigan, Nancy Louise Ballance of Hamilton, Montana, Nina Elizabeth Eadie of Corvallis, Montana, and Gretchen Ann Nelson, of Corvallis, Montana, and by their spouses, all of whom she loved as if they were her own children, daughter-in-law, Jody Nelson, and sons-in-law, Larry Ballance and Bud Eadie.  She is also survived by her two grandsons and their wives and her two granddaughters, all of whom she was extremely proud, Patrick and Ashley Ballance of Corvallis, Montana, Captain Anthony  and Lydia Nelson, of Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, Kristen Nelson, of Westminster, California, and Karen Nelson, of Saline, Michigan. She is also survived by her greatest joys, great-grandsons, Jack Ballance and A.J., James, and Jake Nelson.  We all loved you so, Mom.  We will miss you, but we are glad you are at peace.  In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made in Mom’s name to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation.  Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at

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