JoAnn Winifred Nelson

August 12, 1940 - March 29, 2019

JoAnn Winifred Nelson

August 12, 1940 - March 29, 2019


Beloved daughter, sister, mother, grandmother and friend. JoAnn Winifred Nelson went to heaven on March 29, 2019.

JoAnn was born August 12, 1940 to Joseph and Nina Vitaljic in Bellingham, WA. She was the youngest with three older siblings Katherine, Andy, and Vera. Growing up within the Slavic fishing community in Fairhaven, Bellingham shaped her commitment to family, value for hard work and love for the sea.

She left Bellingham when she married in 1965. A Washingtonian her whole life, she ventured to Auburn, Lake Tapps and Kent but found her way back to her first love: Chuckanut Drive, Bellingham Bay and tulip fields of Skagit Valley.

JoAnn graduated Bellingham High School in 1958. She was a stay-at-home mom for the duration of her 20+ year marriage to Ed Nelson. As a single mother, she went to Green River Community College and got her Associate Degree as a Computer Support Specialist. She started at Boeing at an entry level position and through training and hard work she earned her way to a System Analyst enjoying a 20-year career.

Anyone that spent time with JoAnn would soon learn about her passions: being a Grandma, loving her cats, singing her heart out to Neil Diamond and working out in the garden. She proudly wore her Seahawks and Mariners gear as she traveled the US and the world. Her faith in God led her to be incredibly generous: volunteering her time, sharing her resources and serving those in need. She loved to tell stories, go on adventures with friends and hunt for a good bargain.

The last ten years she worked at Hannegan Properties to help run the day to day activities of the community farm. She loved being a part of the partnership with Christ the King church and working alongside the 250+ volunteers. Together they grew and harvested more than 70,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables each year for food banks throughout Whatcom County. As a tribute to JoAnn’s legacy, a third green house is under construction and will be named in her honor.

She is survived by her children: Kim (Eric) Porter, Aaron (Kristi) Nelson and Eric (Tara) Nelson and her grandchildren Emily, Abby and Maverick Nelson.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 6th, 2019 at 11am at Moles Farewell Tributes (2465 Lakeway Drive, Bellingham)

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Whatcom Humane Society.

Please feel free to add your memories of JoAnn below.

Memorial Service

  • Date & Time: April 6, 2019 (12:00 AM)
  • Venue: Moles Farewell Tributes - Bellingham
  • Location: 2465 Lakeway Drive Bellingham, WA 98229 - (Get Directions)
  • Phone Number: (360) -73-3-0510

No Charities & Donations

No Gallery Photos

No Videos

6 responses to JoAnn Winifred Nelson

  1. We were so sorry to hear about JoAnn’s passing. Thoughts of her went back to Winhtrop, when she was on a fishing trip with Andy. Sitting by the campfire and tasting homemade “brews”. I think she slept well that night. It was fun to see Andy and her together for that trip. God be with you and the family as you go thru this, hopefully happy thoughts come to mind and may God put smiles on your faces.

  2. Biery/Lawson says:

    It was a beautiful service. Also, we thank you for letting us know of her struggles.We drove up Hannegan to see the farm.
    Linda and Galen – class of ’58

  3. Aunt JoAnn was one amazing woman and we are all going to miss her so much. Because JoAnn’s immediate family live out of town, those of us who lived closer had the pleasure of spending time with her. I’m not sure which of her qualities was the most impressive….she was so compassionate and caring with a spirit of service, very generous with her resources and time, and unbelievably energetic with a love for life, love and pride for her family and a woman of great faith. She went out of her way to be helpful to my family many times and we all appreciated her help and support so much. She would work out in the gardens at Hannegan Seafood for hours and then insist on coming out to her sister’s place to spend a couple more hours helping me plant my Dad’s dahlias, and then at the end of the season, dig them up, clean them and put them away. We went on many walks together and I loved those visits and was always amazed that I didn’t have to slow down one bit for her. I got to hear about her grandkids and see pictures. One proud mom and grandma. I’m not sure how many times she told me that she saw Neil Diamond in concert but one time I got to go along. It was great experiencing that with her and her good friend Kathleen. Another time JoAnn, Kathleen and I went blueberry picking, probably again after working hard in the gardens, and picked and picked so there would be fresh berries at the Food Bank the following day. She loved doing things like that for people. I obviously could go on and on but JoAnn was a wonderful, thoughtful, humble human being who we are all lucky to call family. It must be a family trait for sure because her siblings are that way too. She loved flowers but our family will donate to the Humane Society because she loved helping out there too. We sure hope you know how much you were loved and appreciated JoAnn and we’re very thankful for everything. You left us way too soon and will be greatly missed.

  4. JoAnn was such a fun, and outgoing person. It was a lot of fun growing up in our fishing community where everyone knew everyone and the parents, aunts, & uncles watched over us kids (and reported our every move to our parents). I would see JoAnn, mostly, when my older brother and sister visited her older siblings and we would tag along sometimes. As we got older, everyone went their separate ways, but then we became older than dirt and reconnected – especially at the Croatian picnics. JoAnn always had great stories and a beautiful laugh. Going to miss her smile, her genuine caring and love for everyone she knew.

  5. Joann was part of our 13th Street family. She was an amazing woman and we will miss her and be ever grateful for her life and generosity in our lives

Leave A Condolence