Lucile “Lu” Nelson, 101, of Billings, passed away at TenderNest on Feb. 12, 2017, following a very brief stay. She lived in her own home until one week prior to her passing. Lu was born in Billings on Oct. 14, 1915, to Benjamin and Viola Balkwell. Her father passed away when Lu was young and her mother was in a debilitating accident, so she was then responsible for helping care for her seven siblings.
Lu met a local musician, Arthur Nelson, while working at the Island Park Night Club. She, the “salad girl” and he, a wonderful trumpet player. Lu married Art on Oct. 4, 1936. The family grew with the addition of their two daughters Darlene and Nancy.
Lucile took great pride in her appearance. She loved getting her hair done and dressing up in her beautiful outfits and a great pair of high heels! She loved hats and was selected the winner of the hat contest at Yellowstone Downs, handpicked by the County Commissioners. She would frequently be seen with a hat to complete her outfit. She had a fondness for animals and carried a plastic bag in her purse to collect leftover food for any random animal needing a special treat. She cherished family time and truly valued time with her children and spoiling her grandchildren. The grandchildren will never forget her special gifts and food, including her world-famous chicken and homemade noodles and her macaroni salad or banana bread with her special ingredient, maraschino cherries. She had a huge heart full of love and compassion. Each grandchild was lucky enough to receive one of her handmade quilts when they were born. She was a wonderful gardener and claimed gardening was her form of therapy. Her yard was full of flowers she grew and would share with friends and family. She traveled often and her daughters took her on many trips, including Branson, Mo.; Las Vegas; Burbank, Calif., to see Bob Barker on The Price Is Right; and on a Caribbean Cruise for her 90th birthday and again when she when she was 93. She was active at the Senior Center and enjoyed a good game of cards. After Art’s passing in 1997, she realized that life is too short, so she started her daily ritual of drinking one beer every evening as a special treat. She was one special lady. In the 1940s, she and a group of neighbors started a birthday club. They met for birthdays for over 70 years. She was a charter member of First Christian Church and the American Legion Auxiliary.
Lu was preceded in death by her husband, Art; her parents; all seven of her siblings; grandson Chris Powell; and great-granddaughter Isabel VonBergen.
She is survived by her two daughters, Darlene (John) Foote and Nancy (Clifford) Powell, both of Billings; nine grandchildren, Cheri Asay, Bradley VonBergen, Shelly Seidel, Wade VonBergen, Neil Powell, Brian Powell, Michael Powell and Lisa Strouf; 17 great-grandchildren; and 10 great-great grandchildren.
Visitation will be from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19, at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary, 1001 Alderson Ave. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Feb. 20, at Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary. Burial will follow at Sunset Memorial Gardens.
Memorials may be made to charity of one’s choice. Michelotti-Sawyers is assisting with arrangements.