Obituary: Jean Dorothea Nelson (1936-2021)

Jean Dorothea Nelson
Jan. 22, 1936 – May 16, 2021
Jean Nelson
Jean Nelson

Jean Dorothea Rampton Nelson, 85, a former longtime resident of Corvallis, OR, died Sunday, May 16, 2021, in Sacred Heart Hospital at Spokane, WA, of a brain hemorrhage. She and her husband had lived in West Richland, WA, for the past three years but her heart was always in Corvallis.

She was born Jan. 22, 1936, in Colfax, WA, to Henry Hardy Rampton and Dorothea Wilhelmine Katherine Henningsen Rampton, the oldest of 6 children. The Rampton family made their home in Corvallis in 1936 where they were early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Jean graduated from Corvallis High School in 1953 and Brigham Young University in Provo, UT, in 1960 with a major in home economics and minor in journalism. She had great organizational and secretarial skills and worked for the president of BYU, Ernest Wilkinson.

She met her future husband in college when he chased her around her apartment on a dare to kiss her. They later fell in love after Salt Lake City Postmaster Isaac A. Smoot found out who her grandfather was and told them: “Young man, this girl has good blood in her. I want you to marry her.” She married cowboy and pilot Charles Roland Nelson on Dec. 18, 1956, in the LDS Temple at Logan, UT.

Charles joined the Air Force and they lived from one end of the United States to the other, joyfully serving their church, community and country. They loved wherever they settled – no matter how short or long the stay. They made friends in Bainbridge, GA, Big Spring, TX, Wichita, KS, Abilene, TX, Montgomery, AL, Plattsburgh, NY, Midwest City, OK, Ogden, UT, Corvallis (while Charles served in Vietnam), Bountiful, UT, Waipahu and Kailua, HI, Corvallis again in the 1970s, Sturgis and Rapid City, SD, and back to Corvallis in 1979 when they retired from the Air Force.

They moved once more – to Washington – living near a grandson and other beloved family. They made so many new friends that the neighbor children called them ‘Grandma and Grandpa’ and their great-grandsons had their birthday parties at their house. Her capacity to make everyone part of her circle of love was one of her many gifts.

Jean’s major work was raising her family of nine children, but she also welcomed foster children and a Mexican Rotary exchange student into her home. Many more called her “Mom.” She worked in the 4-H office at OSU in Corvallis and started an in-home business called Nelson Foster Care for the Elderly. She cared for her elderly Aunt Em, as well as her mother and father in her home until the day they died. She cherished the old and the young. She was so proud of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and had a personal relationship with every one of them. Her husband called her “my wonderful wife, pillar of strength, and example of active compassion.”

She loved Jesus Christ and served faithfully in her church youth and women’s organizations. She was a talented pianist and organist and played for a stake conference just weeks ago. She tried to teach her children to play the piano and encouraged a variety of music in the home. Her sons performed often together, singing and playing the ukulele. Jean enthusiastically supported Charles in his callings including Boy Scout leader, bishop and stake presidency member. They served together three LDS church missions – two in the Singapore Mission which included Pakistan, Sri Lanka and East Malaysia; and one at Fort Stewart/Hinesville, GA, where they supported servicemen and their families in a wide variety of ways. She also supported her seven sons on church missions. There was always room at her table. Her homemade bread was legend.

She served as chair or member of many organizations including: Corvallis Diversity Committee, State of Oregon Commission for Children and Families, Corvallis Republican Women, Corvallis Community Calendar, Corvallis Republican Party, and Committee to Celebrate Philomath Volunteers. She was a Red Cross volunteer chaplain. Jean and Charles were Portland Temple workers. They loved serving in the temple, doing genealogy, compiling histories and hosting family reunions.

Jean and Charles traveled the world many times over including Europe and Asia – always with a purpose and usually to support families and education. They worked with presidents, church leaders, and paupers, and treated all with the same kindness. They founded Achchi Education in Pakistan, helping many Pakistani youth receive an unattainable education. The LDS Church Perpetual Education Fund eventually took over the program.

Jean was highly organized and an excellent writer. She heavily contributed to several books including histories of the Corvallis LDS Stake and City of Philomath. She eagerly noted the contributions of others and championed good causes. She helped her husband when he was a Corvallis City Councilman and she supported many Republican candidates with her time, money and boundless energy.

Jean was a strong advocate of hard work, personal responsibility, self-sufficiency, and democracy. She loved her country and its freedoms and was never afraid to roll up her sleeves and work for what she believed in. She made every day count and had an amazing memory. She was always on the go and attended every event she could for her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. One year, she traveled across the country to 4 graduation ceremonies in one week!

On her last day, she had taken a ministering sister to breakfast and worked in her office organizing pictures of her family.

Survivors include her husband Charles, West Richland; children, Kathy (Gary) Blake, Medford, OR; Laurel (Curt) Helton, Wenatchee, WA; Michael (Becky), Vancouver, WA; Jared (Beth), Spokane; Roland (Julie), Orem, UT; Ralph Isaac (Heather), Hemet, CA; Caleb (Rachael), Hillsboro, OR; Joel (Dianne), Salem, OR; Andy (Mara), North Plains, OR; her dear 34 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren; as well as her siblings, Wes (Marie) Rampton of La Grande, OR; Chris Low of Dayton, OR; Mark (Alice) Rampton of Corvallis; and their families; and many extended family members such as Ann Nelson and Jim and George Hazel in West Richland, and her friends around the world. She was preceded in death by her brother, Jim Rampton; sister, Alice Rampton; grandson, Josh Nelson; and niece, Lora Rampton.

Viewing will be Tuesday, June 1, at 11:30 am followed by a funeral service at 1 pm at Corvallis Stake Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4141 NW Harrison Blvd. Burial will follow at Oak Lawn Memorial Park, Corvallis. (Because of COVID restrictions, attendance is limited. Overflow for the 1 p.m. funeral service will be at the LDS Church, 1205 NW Walnut Blvd. To watch at home: http://mywebcast.churchofjesuschrist.org/Events/corvallisoregonstake Event code: 41432).

A memorial service for family and friends in Washington state will be held on Saturday, June 12, from 2 to 4 pm at the Desert Hills Ward building, 4500 Maple Ln, West Richland, WA.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the LDS Family History Center, in care of McHenry Funeral Home, Corvallis, which is in charge of arrangements.

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