Cover photo for Joann Nelson's Obituary
1937 Joann 2018

Joann Nelson

January 27, 1937 — May 21, 2018

She is no longer earth bound in body, mind, or spirit. She has left this place; her eyes, mind, and heart are now fixed on Christ. Joan or JoAnn or Jo-Ann (she never spelled her name the same way twice) Ruby (Nett) Nelson, age eighty-one, of wisdom Montana, joined her Father in Heaven on May 21st, 2018. She lived her life by the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 “The Holy Spirit produces a different kind of fruit; unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kind heartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. You won’t find any law apposed to fruit like this.” Along with her twin brother Gene, she joined their big brother Russel on January 27th, 1937. The only daughter of the late Arthur C. and Ruby (Connor) Nett, she spent her childhood keeping up with the boys, riding horses, milking cows, and branding calves on a beautiful cattle ranch beneath Haystack Butte in Augusta Montana. She completed twelve years of school in Augusta, and continued her education at Colorado Women’s College, where she was awarded Valedictorian, and Montana State University; graduating with a degree in education/business. Teaching, and later substituting, she impacted the lives of many students who needed someone to stand in their corner and say, “you can do this.” While attending college, she met the good looking cowboy who stole her heart, John H. Nelson, and even though they only went on three dates in the first year, they ended up best friends, joined together for life on July 7th, 1960. They continued to complete each other for the next 54 years, until John’s passing May 11th, 2014. Next to her family, her greatest joy was the love for crazy barrel horses and the sport of rodeo. She chased cans in high school, college, and well beyond. She was a mentor and inspiration to many barrel racers, and was the Montana Barrel Racing Association champion in 1959. She was also a true rodeo mom, hauling her kids all over the state, celebrating every Mother’s Day in the grandstands. Inspirational, beautiful, compassionate, kind and generous, are only a few words used to describe this amazing woman. Through her kindness, she inspired kindness in others. Her kids’ friends always wished they had a mother like her, and her nurturing soul allowed her to open her home and heart to every crazy hired man, tourist, hunter, rodeo bum, and stray kid who cast a shadow on her porch. She was a wonderful cook, and no one ever left her house hungry. Housework always took a back seat to the puppies, kittens, piglets, rabbits, chicks, calves, and one rambunctious raccoon that constantly graced her home...and those were just the ones that were inside the house. On those rare occasions where she wasn’t outside, she could be found sewing. Her creations ranged from stunning fringed leather dresses, to intricate quilts, to simply mending jeans. She grew the best garden in the Big Hole, harvested, canned, and locally sourced before it was the “it thing” to do. She was also “green” before her time as evidenced by the stacks of aluminum foil and used butter containers in her kitchen. She could kill a chicken, pluck it, fry it for dinner, and make a pillow from the feathers all in one day. She organized and implemented very successful annual Maid In Montana Trail Rides for women only. Telling camp fire stories, singing, and enjoying friends on horseback, were some of her happiest moments. That distinct, contagious laugh of hers, will forever echo off the canyon walls. God created her to be the perfect ranch wife. She bottle fed bum calves, gathered cows, drove a buck rake, kept the books, chopped firewood, tamped posts, vaccinated steers, and was always willing to take the two a.m. calving check no matter how cold it was. Even when she was cooking on a wood stove and didn’t have the “luxury” of hot running water or a toilet that flushed, she didn’t complain. We're sure it wasn’t her dream to make three hot meals a day, 365 days a year, and to wash clothes and dishes by hand with water heated on a wood stove, but she did it because she was devoted to her family. She tackled all jobs with something akin to joy, and didn’t quit until it was done. John spent most of his life doing something he absolutely loved; JoAnn loved ranching too, but as we see it, she spent her life devoted to him and his dreams, and that, makes her our hero. Her true treasure and legacy is what she leaves in the hearts of her loved ones. No one came to her without leaving happier. She was proceeded in death by her parents, Arthur and Ruby Nett, and her husband John H. Nelson. She is survived by her brother Russel Nett, her brother Gene (Margorie) Nett, children John (Kimberly), Rohn (Lori), and Shonda (Mike) as well as grand children Timbra (Justin) Arendt, Tahra, Shayle (Shawn), Colton (Sara), Cache, McCoy, and Mikah, and her great grand children, Taite, and Rhaynee. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the local church or charity of your choice.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Joann Nelson, please visit our flower store.

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