Irene Nelson, 64, died in Anchorage Friday. She had recently suffered heart problems, family members said.
Irene Nancy Nelson was born in Denver, Colo., the third of four children of Louis and Hazel Nelson.
Irene studied flute at Eastman School of Music while in middle and high school in West Irondequoit, N.Y. She also played in the high school band. She attended Haines High School after her parents moved here in 1966, and was salutatorian of the 1967 graduating class.
“She was the new girl in school. She was really smart and had good grades,” said classmate Sharon Svenson. Nelson attended University of Alaska-Fairbanks for two years, and lived in Wasilla, Juneau and Anchorage.
Carol Tuynman said her sister was a gifted artist in watercolors and decoupage, and also was a gardener and natural foods advocate. As a young adult in Colorado in the 1970s, she collected and preserved herbs as part of the back-to-nature movement.
“Irene loved the land and its bounty. At home at 33 Mile and (at her family’s Mud Bay) homestead, she enjoyed every day of gardening and sharing with her friends,” said Paul Nelson, Irene’s brother.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23 at House of Deliverance Solid Rock Baptist Church in Anchorage. A local memorial is pending.
Nelson is survived by sisters Ardis Nelson of Johnson City, Tenn., and Carol Tuynman of Haines, and brother Paul Nelson of Haines.
Memorial donations can be made to Hospice of Haines.