In Memoriam

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Catherine Gesas Nelson ’43

Born and raised in Idaho Falls, Catherine attended Reed but graduated from Oregon State University as a registered dietitian. Later she also obtained a teacher’s certificate and taught for many years.

“Although I only attended Reed during my freshman year, the school had a big impact on my life,” Catherine said. “To be in Prof. Barry Cerf’s [literature 1921–48] class, be introduced to great literature, and be allowed to form my own ideas was a great joy. Each moment at Reed I still cherish.”

After she married Gordon Nelson in San Luis Obispo, California, the couple moved to Idaho Falls, where they spent the rest of their lives. Catherine taught for several years at O.E. Bell and Clair E. Gale junior high school. Two days after her husband’s funeral, she took over his wholesale frozen food business and worked with employees to expand it. She served as a Brownie Scout leader and was on the boards of the Salvation Army and the Idaho Falls Public Library. She chaired the Mae Neuber Foundation, originated and chaired the Idaho Falls Symphony Guild, and served on the Mayor’s Committee for Cultural Grants. An avid downhill skier, she served as president of the Idaho Falls Ladies Golf Association, was active in the Idaho Falls Unitarian Universalist Church, and worked in the local soup kitchen.

Catherine is survived by her daughter, Victoria McDonald; son, Joe (Rena) Nelson; and grandsons, Aaron and Jack McDonald, and Robert and Scott Nelson. 

Appeared in Reed magazine: June 2016

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