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302-478-7100 Wilmington & Hockessin, DE

Jem N. Nelson

Jem Nolt Nelson passed away peacefully in Cream Ridge, New Jersey at the age of 93.

Jem lived a remarkable life. She was born in Landisville, PA in Lancaster County where she graduated from East Hempfield High School. After matriculating at Temple University, she attended Cornell University New York Hospital School of Nursing, Class of 1951, where she would meet her late husband of 66 years, Dewey A. Nelson, MD, while playing piano for Cornell Medical School parties. She lived with Dewey as a newlywed in Japan in 1953 during his service in the Korean War.

While Dewey was finishing his neurology residency at Bellevue Hospital in New York, Jem worked as a visiting nurse there until they moved to Wilmington, Delaware to set up Dewey’s practice in 1957. Many years later, Jem obtained her master’s degree in nursing from the University of Delaware, taught nursing at a local community college and ran the final 10 years of Dewey’s office practice until his retirement in 1996.

More important than her professional endeavors was Jem’s faith. She was a devoted servant to Jesus Christ and this positively affected everything she did and everyone she touched. She was a member of Red Clay Creek Presbyterian Church for over 60 years where she served as an elder, choir member, musician, teacher, clerk of session and mission participant.

Her faith was lived out in relationships. Jem loved people. Her greatest calling in life was to her family. She was a wife, mother of 5, grandmother of 14, and great-grandmother of 2. Jem was a wonderful mother who mentored by example and nurtured by grace.

Jem was the quintessential grandmother, baking thousands of batches of chocolate chip cookies and sending many a thoughtful card and gift for each and every birthday. She could throw together a Thanksgiving dinner for 30 people in her sleep.

Jem loved taking long walks with her dear friends and neighbors and playing the piano for anyone who would ask her. She loved feeding birds and bird watching. Her favorite was the bluebird. She also was an author, who published a memoir devoted to her grandmother.

Even after her stroke in 2010 that robbed her of her ability to talk and tickle the ivories, Jem never lost her sense of humor. She embodied the Bluebird of Happiness. Jem was always humble and selfless and will be sorely missed by those she loved and touched.

Jem is survived by a sister, Mary Nolt Mortemore of Oregon, Ohio; her five children and their spouses: Allen F. Nelson and wife Rose (Tombazzi), Stephen J. Heinzel-Nelson and wife Elisabeth (Heinzel), Jean M. Nelson and husband Matthew DiGioia, John D. Nelson and wife Randa (Boggus) and Daniel E. Nelson and wife Toshiko (Katano). She is also survived by 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Jem was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Dewey, in 2017 and by her loving grandson, Brandon Nelson, in 2018.

A springtime memorial service and life celebration will be scheduled for 2022 and will be held at Red Clay Creek Presbyterian Church at a date to be determined.

Funeral Services

A springtime memorial service and life celebration will be scheduled for 2022 and will be held at Red Clay Creek Presbyterian Church at a date to be determined.


    Deborah Kinderman lit a candle and writes,
    My deepest condolences to you and your families. I knew Jem when we both worked for Geriatric Services together back in the early 90's providing home health care. She was a wonderful mentor and her example of compassion and real concern for patients and staff has stayed with me. She always admired the home health aides and how they "made sense out of people's lives" when helping them. That quote of hers remains in my mind even today. I "inherited" her nursing bag and still use it to this day. She was a wonderful woman. What a blessing to have had her as your mother and grandmother. May you have peace as you miss her and comfort in the knowledge that you will see her again. Most sincerely, Debbie Kinderman
    11/24/2021 11:42 am
    Begabati Marion Lennihan writes,
    Dear Nelson family, I am writing on behalf of my mother, Marge Lennihan, who is gradually and peacefully slipping away from this life herself. Marge loved your mother so much! She especially enjoyed playing the piano with her - they played "piano two hands" - and taking walks with her. I remember times when I took my mother to visit your mother and went on walks with them around Spring Valley. What a beautiful home you had nestled in the trees there! It's the end of an era for both of our families, and of a friendship that began with our fathers working together in the hospital and becoming great comrades there. Very sad for you, and I know what it's like to lose a great matriarch like your mother.
    02/09/2022 08:10 am

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