Frances Doreen Nelson

October 17, 1925December 18, 2020

On Friday evening, December 18, 2020, Frances Doreen Nelson (nee Bush) went to be with the Lord from her home in Greenville, North Carolina. Having celebrated her 95th birthday she was diagnosed with a terminal condition just three days later and immediately began completing pet projects, telling family and friends, “I will be joyful every day and more so thereafter,” a phrase that fittingly describes her zeal and gratitude for life. Frances was born in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada on October 17, 1925, the second child of Archibald Franklin Bush and Elizabeth Edna Bush (nee Parker). After completing grade 13 at Burlington High School, Burlington, Ontario, Frances earned her R.N. at The Hamilton General Hospital School of Nursing and her Bachelor of Religious Education at London Bible Institute, London, Ontario. She and Alfred Edric Nelson (July 6, 1920-April 6, 2007) met at LBI and married at Freeman Gospel Tabernacle, Burlington, on August 25, 1951. Fran actively supported Alf’s pastoral ministries to Michigan churches including Alaska Baptist Church, Kingsley Baptist Church, and Parr Memorial Baptist Church, Petoskey; as MARBC State Representative and “Mrs. Shepherd,” and in his role as Seniors Pastor at First Baptist Church, St. Johns.

Frances’s life was characterized by unswerving faithfulness, service and love for the Lord, and strong commitment to the church communities of which she was a member or pastor’s wife. She nurtured friendships with adults and children alike, and through cards and letters maintained relationships with hundreds of friends, including her great-grandchildren whom she wrote every month. She valued books, learning, nature, gardening, needlecraft, games, and most importantly, family and friends – she lived life to the fullest with her signature smile and joyful, enthusiastic spirit. She will truly be missed!

Frances is preceded in death by her husband Alfred E. Nelson, parents Archibald F. and Elizabeth E. Bush, sisters Marguerite, Barbara, Betty, and brothers Leonard and Graham. She will be fondly remembered by her sisters Helen McKercher (Burlington, Ontario) and Shirley Davy (Parry Sound, Ontario), children Judy Barber (Chuck, Greenville, NC), Dan (Nancy, Raleigh, NC), Ron (Glenda, Dayton, OH), Steve (Miko, Fukuoka, Japan), Paul (Elizabeth, New Canaan, CT), and Susan Page (Easton, PA), and her 18 grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren.

Frances Nelson’s earthly tent will be laid to rest beside those of her husband and parents at White Chapel Memorial Gardens & Cemetery in Hamilton, Ontario. After the first of the year a celebration of her life will be held at Grace Church, 3551 Charles Blvd., Greenville, NC 27858. It would be her wish that any memorial tributes be made in the form of charitable donations which can be sent to Grace Church for the Bibles for Asia ministry.

Local funeral arrangements are under the direction of Thomas-Yelverton Funeral Home, Wilson, NC. Online condolences may be sent by visiting


Frances Doreen Nelson

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Leslie Hoover

January 15, 2021

Pastor and Mrs. Nelson came to Parr Memorial Baptist Church in Petoskey, MI when I was a young wife ready to start a family. I so admired all of her qualities. She was a wife and mother raising 6 children and supporting her husband's ministry. Yet she was her own individual person. She was a wonderful pianist yet did it with such ease. Her organizational skills were superb. She never wasted a minute. The Lord moved us both to other places but a fond memory was always left of her in my heart. Condolences to all of her family.

Ken & Sharon Floyd

January 7, 2021

Fran was such a special servant of God and a friend to so many. She was well equipped to serve with Alf as a pastor's wife and then as "Mrs. Shepherd" to the many pastors' wives serving alongside their pastor-husbands across the State of Michigan.

Fran could have been a multi-millionaire had she so desired. The cards that she crafted to mail faithfully to so many of us over the years would have put most of the prominent greeting card companies out of business had she chosen to sell them. She remembered everyone on every occasion.

We are humbled and blessed by the fact that we were included in some of those "pet projects" that she had to complete before entering into the presence of her Savior and Lord. She sent us an anniversary card at the end of November as well as a Christmas card a week later. We will cherish the messages that she conveyed in both.

In the last column that she penned for the “Baptist Testimony” monthly newsletter prior to their retirement from the Michigan Association of Regular Baptist Churches, Fran wrote of “The Delights of God.” Quoting from 1 Samuel 15:22 she stated, "'Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.’ May we determine as David did when he said, 'I will delight myself in Thy commandments which I have loved' (Psalm 119:47). Then shall we delight the heart of God, be blessed in our own hearts and bring glory to Him.”

We give thanks to God for this precious servant who, like her dear Alf, has heard the commendation from her Lord "Well done, good and faithful servant!" Perhaps Alf was waiting and ready to play a welcoming song for her?!

Be assured of our prayer support for the family.

Ken and Sharon Floyd
Michigan Association of Regular Baptist Churches
Grand Rapids, MI

Anita Cross

January 5, 2021

Fran was such a special, godly, joyful person. She was part of our Naomi Circle in the Grand Rapids area years ago. We still miss her. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." What a welcome she received for her faithfulness here on earth.

Jocelyn Nelson

December 31, 2020

Our heartfelt condolences go out to Judy and the whole family. She was a beautiful soul, and a gift to the world. With love from Jocelyn and Dave.

Cindy Letchworth

December 30, 2020

Such a sweet soul! Blessed to have been able to be part of her church family...Her kindness and generosity shown to our family will always be remembered!

Karen Martinez

December 28, 2020

Meeting Miss Fran later in her life was a privilege.
She was so gracious, loving and full of life.
My grandchildren adored her and she always had a hug and a smile for them.
They would run literally to her when they saw her.
I was afraid they would knock her over them being kids and Miss Fran so frail.
She loved it though.
Her tea parties were an expression to my grandchildren of the fact someone cared enough to go out of their way to put on such a wonderful event and just for them!
If there ever was a life to mimic it would be hers.

Deanna Chapman

December 28, 2020

Fran Nelson... the sweetest person I've ever had the privilege to know. I'll miss coming to Greenville to " Fran sit" ...oh what an adventure it has been.

Susan Page

December 22, 2020

We miss you so much, Mom, but we know you are in a far better place. Love you. ❤️