Elizabeth Nelson Pursell, an only child, was born to John Aliouscious Nelson and Jeannette Leach Nelson on March 5, 1931. Her mother was 41 when she had her only child, who with great affection she called Betsy. Betsy was considered a miracle child in that Jeannette was ill most of her life, having had scarlet fever in early childhood which compromised her heart.
Betsy was raised by her parents and her Aunt Ellis and Uncle Mikey, who all lived together in West Orange, New Jersey. Betsy had no siblings, but the family consistently had two Boston Terriers named Penny and Jackie, the recipients of great affection and source of many anecdotes (among them the spectacle of their many costumes after meticulous dress-up sessions at the hands of young Betsy).
Betsy often told her children stories of her years growing up in West Orange, New Jersey, including her outspoken playmate in kindergarten and lifelong friend Shirley Tagge. These stories of girlhood experience and life's discoveries delighted Betsy almost as much as her children.
In 1953 Betsy and Alfred Burton Pursell, high school sweethearts, were married and shortly after had their first child Jenny, then Fred, then David, and lastly Andrew. According to Al's mother, after seeing Betsy across the aisle in church one Sunday, her high school son informed her after the service that this was the girl he would marry someday.
Betsy was a member of Philamathean and of PEO, and was a prolific wood worker making finely crafted cabinets, tables and hutches which adorned her home. As a military wife she moved 12 times, which included time on Oahu, Hawaii and in Germany. She always maintained a comfortable, attractive, and most importantly welcoming home for her family and friends – which she fondly dubbed Pineapple Place.
Betsy was a devoted and loving wife, mother, mother-in-law, grandmother and great grandmother. Her many friends often refer to her as the sweetest, most loving person they had ever known.
She passed peacefully on February 5. Her life's force added value and made a difference in the lives of many, and her spirit and memory lives on in her family, friends and community.
Visitation will be Monday, February 10, 2014 from 5 to 7 p.m. followed by a Celebration of Life service at 7 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 4th and Walnut, Leavenworth, Kan. Arrangements entrusted to Davis Funeral Chapel. Condolences may be made at www.davisfuneralinc.com