Abbe Rae Nelson

After a long and healthy life, Abbe Rae Nelson passed away at age 94 of natural, age-related causes in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, on March 30, 2015.


After a long and healthy life, Abbe Rae Nelson passed away at age 94 of natural, age-related causes in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, on March 30, 2015.

Abbe was born on March 24, 1921, to Nels Theodore “Ted” and Minnie Mabel Parker Nelson in New London, Minn. She was the second of five children. Shortly after her birth, the family moved to a farm in New England, N.D. As a child, Abbe attended a one-room rural schoolhouse through 8th grade. She went on to graduate as class valedictorian from New England High School in 1939.

After graduation, Abbe attended Interstate Business College in Fargo, N.D. to pursue a career in accounting. In 1942 Abbe moved to Los Angeles, Calif., landing her first job in the accounting department of prestigious Hughes Aircraft. Most of her career was spent as accountant for the engineering firm of Leroy Crandall and Associates. After 25 years of service Abbe’s retirement party was a large, well-attended celebration in 1986.

Abbe loved the southern California lifestyle. Her leisure time was spent enjoying the nearby beaches, botanic gardens, and especially theater and musical productions at the Los Angeles Music Center and the Greek Theater in Griffith Park. One of Abbe’s favorite activities was her volunteer work as a docent at the Autry National Center of the American West in Griffith Park. There she shared with visitors her roots growing up on a farm in North Dakota.

A highlight of Abbe’s life was a 4-month tour of Europe in 1958. She traveled by Karmann Ghia sports car with her sister Mary Jane. They started in England and Norway moving southward through France, Spain and Italy, returning to the United States through the Panama Canal via Italian freighter. The journey was well photographed and the Europe slide show was the entertainment at many family gatherings in later years.

Though Abbe did not marry, she was surrounded by the company of many friends and family. She loved entertaining at her stylish apartment on Los Feliz Boulevard and welcomed many guests over the years. Fifteen years ago, Abbe and Mary Jane moved from southern California to northern Idaho to be closer to family. While residing in Idaho, Abbe continued to enjoy life and take pride in her appearance during her golden years. Less than two years apart in age, Abbe and Mary Jane have remained inseparable.

Abbe’s stunning smile and generous spirit remain in the hearts of her family.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Ted and Minnie; and her elder sister Shirley Nelson Wicklund. She is survived by sisters Mary Jane and Dorothy Elizabeth “Bette” Werner, brother Theodore “Ted” Parker Nelson, and 10 nieces and nephews: Curtis and Roger Wicklund; Scott, Whitney, Nelson, Eric and Amy Jane Werner; Diane Nelson Spickert, Laura Nelson Kasperowicz and Wayde Nelson.

In keeping with Abbe’s wishes, her remains will be interred at Melrose Abbey Memorial Park in Anaheim, Calif., where she joins her parents, Ted and Minnie. A celebration of her life will follow at a future date.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in the name of Abbe Rae Nelson to The Autry National Center, 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, CA 90027.

English Funeral Chapel of Coeur d’Alene has been entrusted to handle final arrangements. Please visit Abbe’s online memorial at

Share this post