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What others say about Joan Nelson | HOMETOWN HERO

Joan Nelson sorts books in the building named in honor of her late husband, Don Nelson, who was a community leader in his own right. A favorite she came across that day was titled, “The Essential Handbook of Victorian Etiquette.” - Jim Larsen / The Record
Joan Nelson sorts books in the building named in honor of her late husband, Don Nelson, who was a community leader in his own right. A favorite she came across that day was titled, “The Essential Handbook of Victorian Etiquette.”
— image credit: Jim Larsen / The Record

“Joan may be small, but her heart is big, and she is one of the kindest and most thoughtful people I have ever met. She is always open to newcomers and new learning experiences, and is a dedicated volunteer for her community. Joan doesn’t seek the limelight, but prefers quietly working behind the scenes to do her part to make Clinton a better place to live, whether she’s making brownies for the Friends of the Library book sale volunteers, serving as a water commissioner, or teaching a crafts class to preschoolers at the library. Joan is a treasure in our community.”

— Betty Freeman, writer and volunteer for WIN

“I have been lucky enough to know Joan in my personal and professional life. On the personal side she has been a second mom to me and I’ve yet to find a question when I was challenged that I was too afraid to ask or she was unwilling to answer and for that I will be eternally grateful. Her life experiences, some happy, some sad, have given her a quiet wisdom that is fun to share in conversation and one thing you could always be sure of was its honesty. She has always demonstrated a strong sense of commitment to community service and has been active on numerous boards and committees and has volunteered all over South Whidbey.

“In a day and time when most of us can only find time to stand on the sidelines and throw fruit she found the time and the courage to get involved and try and make a difference. She’s the ‘Energizer Bunny’ and has been a shining example of how to stay young while growing older.”

— Mike Helland, Clinton Water District manager, fire commissioner

“She’s such a special person, we go back a long way. She is so involved with the community. I always say Joan’s the mayor of Clinton, though she doesn’t like that name. She helps out in little and big ways, she’s a great role model for us all. She’s long been respected as was her late husband Don.”

— Joan Raymond, Friends of Clinton Library volunteer

“She and her husband, Don, had been among the original group that convinced the county and Sno-Isle Libraries that Clinton had outgrown a bookmobile and needed its own library, an effort that took over 10 years.

“She’s also spent many years on the Board of the Clinton Water District, CERT, the Clinton Community Hall and Clinton Future Search. She demonstrates an abiding interest in improving Clinton for the benefit of all. Typical of her unpretentious nature, much of the volunteer work she performs goes on behind the scenes and without recognition.

Her interest in and service to our community is impressive and in my case has been infectious. She is the kind of person I wish I’d known my whole life.”

— Cynthia Patereau, friend

“Joan always has an ear to lend, and good advice prefaced with, ‘None of my business, but I’ll tell you what I think.’ And then we laugh. What can I say except that I am so glad we crossed paths in 1991 and tap-danced our way to friendship. She taught me how to embrace life with the spirit of adventure since my husband passed. Joan is my hero.”

— Claire Rich, SW volunteer

“My grandma is truly a force to be reckoned with. She’s fiercely independent, a world traveler, raised three amazing children. Gardener! Cook! She sews! Tap dances! She’s creative. I could keep going on but even after all of that she still has time to help out in her hometown. She’s truly an inspiration and I admire her so much.”

— Latoya Berry, 36, granddaughter

“I met Joan in the first grade; she was delightful way back then and never changed. She has the unusual ability to be perfectly honest in what she says, and does it without offending anyone. She has a great sense of humor, seeing the “fun” in most everything, and happily sharing it with one and all. I truly admire her.”

— Doris Nolan, longtime friend

“Joan and her late husband, Don, were instrumental in forming the Clinton Library, as well as pushing for the library to join the Sno-Isle Library Association. Joan also volunteers for WICA and contributes to Good Cheer. Within the Friends of the Library group, she has held many positions, and she is still active with the monthly book sales. Her many years as a volunteer in the community have earned her the title of being Clinton’s unofficial mayor.

“She refers to herself as the Town Grouch but she’s far from that! She does light up the room when she enters. She makes being involved in Clinton area activities a joy.”

— Linda Senff, Rotarian

“What a great mom, grandma and great-grandma she is! I can’t think of a time when my parents were not involved in some community activity. I have been so fortunate in every way to have the mom and dad I have had.”

— Marilee Wamsley, eldest daughter

“If she feels strongly about a cause or organization, she volunteers. If something needs doing, it usually doesn’t occur to her to ask for help; she believes she can do almost anything herself. She’s always been quirky. When people ask her how tall she is, she stands up as tall as she can make herself and says, ‘I’m 5’7.’ They’d almost always take a step back, look her up and down, then see the look in her eye — and not argue with her. She’s an inspiration to me in many ways and I know I can always count on her if I need help.”

— Joanie Nelson, daughter-in-law

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