An exuberant life filled with love, a dedication to creativity, and a commitment to her religious faith left us recently. On May 28, Mary Nelson (age 94) died peacefully in her sleep. The world seems emptier for us but we are grateful for the many years she filled our lives with love and laughter.\r\nMary Evelyn Nelson (nee Heffington) was born February 15, 1926 in Snyder, Texas to Bishop Houston Heffington and Emma Marie Harper Heffington. They were perfect examples of a loving, hardworking family of the Depression, moving across the country to find work. She had one brother, Marshall (Sachi) who was several years older. The family spent several years in Arizona where she attended the Baptist Church in Buckeye. Later, as a teen, she enrolled in St. Joseph Academy, a Catholic high school and boarding school in Prescott. At age 16, because of the positive influence of many people, she converted to Catholicism. She later attended Marylhurst College in Oregon and Mount Saint Mary’s in Los Angeles, majoring first in music and later in creative writing. Both these areas would be lifelong passions and the source of great joy and personal fulfillment.\r\nShe changed the course of her life when she decided to become a teacher of the deaf which she dedicated herself to for several years. She also married Archie Nelson, literally the boy next door to where her parents lived in Oregon, and the son of Scandinavian immigrants. The family (especially her mother in law who came to the US at age 19 from Norway) influenced her a great deal with their Nordic history, which she used as a subject matter in her writing.\r\nMary and Arch had four children, Kristin Hill (Keith), Salt Lake City; Carl Nelson (Mercy), Sacramento; and Maggie (George Noutsios) and Keith Nelson, Los Angeles. She was also a proud grandmother of Eric, Rebecca, and Brian. Her children and her grandchildren were the joys of her life.\r\nWhen she and her husband retired and re-located to Utah, she continued her writing – and this time with much more time and focus. Unfortunately, in 2002 Arch passed away. She decided her next work would be dedicated to him, and his Norwegian culture. She painstakingly researched and read the Icelandic sagas and then wrote two books of historical fiction based on the adventures of Leif Erickson, titled Square Sails and Dragons and New Harbors, New Hopes. They are available in libraries and through online services, and have been in bookstores as far away as Japan. She also completed Arpeggio, a mystery novel involving a symphony musician.\r\nShe was named the 2014 Norse Woman of the Year by the Utah Sons of Norway because of her positive influence in the portrayal of Scandinavian culture.\r\nThere has been an incredible outpouring of love from extended family and countless friends whose lives she touched. A private funeral Mass was offered for her.\r\nThe family has designated the award winning Violin Outreach Program of the Utah Symphony Guild as the charity to honor her. This wonderful program provides violins and music lessons to children who might not have the opportunity to have music in their lives. Donations can be sent to the program coordinator, Doyle Clayburn, 1289 West 1200 North, SLC UT 84116. Please make check out to Utah Symphony Guild, with Outreach Violin Program noted in the For Line.\r\nSince Mary was an accomplished violinist, it is a perfect way to keep her song going.