Isobel Una Nielson

3 February, 193013 July, 2021

Isobel Una Nielson (McKay) passed away peacefully on July 13th with her family by her side. Una was born in Dublin, Ireland to Frances (Daisy) and Dr. Alec McKay, one of 3 children. She attended Alexandra and Newtown schools. In 1950 she married Kenneth Leahy. They emigrated to the US in 1956 with their first two children, journeying across the Atlantic. After several moves, the family finally settled in Marblehead, a great place for the children to grow up. Her third child was born in 1962, and Una and her family lived in that wonderful town until the end of her marriage to Ken. Una relocated to West Buxton, Maine with her second husband, Herb Nielson where she remained until 2002, when she retired to Brewster, MA to be near her daughter.

Una was incredibly creative and resourceful, transforming every home into a beautiful and welcoming showpiece. She was a talented and expert dressmaker, artist and craftsperson; hands never idle and always busy creating masterful quilts, Irish knit sweaters, hand sewn teddy bears and dolls. Her natural curiosity to learn led her to calligraphy, sculpture, woodworking and oil painting.

Una was a role model for her children, reminding them to do their very best, to be kind to others, and to never give up no matter how hard it gets. She lived her life in example. She will be especially missed by her loyal circle of friends, most notably her Knitters group; Alice Payne, Tina Pesanelli, Aletta Ryan and Norma Westman. She was a member of the Ladies Nine Holers and at age ninety received her long-awaited free membership at Captain’s Golf Course in Brewster.

For over 50 years Una found her spiritual home as a member of AA, and inspired many others to change their lives as she had. It is impossible to know how many lives she has touched through sponsorship and service.

Ireland was in her soul, and she longed to return often to visit her beloved brother, Donald McKay and his late wife, Adaire, in Killaloe where they would time on Donald’s barge on the Shannon.

Una is predeceased by her husband, Herb Nielson, her sister-in-law, Adaire McKay and her brother Ian McKay. She is survived by her three children, Suzanne Leahy, Philip Leahy and Robert Leahy, her daughter-in-law, Mae Timmons, and her four grandchildren Craig, Kelsey Conor and Eleanor Leahy. She is also survived by her brother Donald McKay and his four children, Johanna, Suellen, Barkley and James, and dear cousin Stuart Hamilton and his wife Vera.

Una’s wishes were for no formal service, but she requested that her family sail her off to a beautiful spot on Pleasant Bay and cast her ashes to the wind. Her family will celebrate and honor her life with her close friends at a later date to be announced.

The family wishes to thank the nurses, aides, therapists and social workers at Broad Reach Liberty Commons in Chatham for all their many kindnesses to Una at the end of her life. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you return that kindness to a health care worker you know. For online condolences, please visit


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Isobel Una Nielson

have a memory or condolence to add?

Michele Silva

24 July 2021

Everything pertinent seems to have been said about Una, a
Lady that one desires to emulate. One facet of her soul was
the connection of the child within, the belief in the magic of life.

So let James Joyce, a poet from our dear friend's homeland,
echo Una's great love for the ethereal.

I love you Una-

From dewy dreams, my soul, arise,
From love's deep slumber and from death,
For lo! the trees are full of sighs
Whose leaves the morn admonisheth.

Eastward the gradual dawn prevails
Where softly-burning fires appear,
Making to tremble all those veils
Of grey and golden gossamer.

While sweetly, gently, secretly,
The flowery bells of morn are stirred
And the wise choirs of faery
Begin (innumerous!) to be heard.

James Joyce

Michele R

21 July 2021

Una touched so many lives and helped many women recover from alcoholism. May her good works always be remembered. Una, be in peace as you continue to trudge the road to happy destiny.

Jerri Carlin

18 July 2021

Rest in peace lovely lady. You always looked so beautiful

Margaret Sweeney

18 July 2021

It was a privilege to know you, Una. God bless you. Rest in peace.
My condolences to Suzanne and the family.
We certainly enjoyed golf at the Captains Course, exercise at the COA, and lots of happy times over coffee on the Captains Course Deck.

Mae Timmons

16 July 2021

To me, Una was a Renaissance woman. There was not much she could not do. She could design, build, sew, quilt, embroider, paint, knit, fish, farm, cook, replace a bay window, change a flat and climb her northern Maine roof to sweep away the snow. In her later years when she was robbed of her vision, she embraced adaptive tools and carried on. She showed us this this indomitable and independent spirit until she took her last breath. She was a force and we will miss her.

From the Family
From the Family