Eileen Day Nelson
01/02/1947 – 02/10/2022
Obituary For Eileen Day Nelson
Eileen Day Nelson, 75, of Port Orchard passed away peacefully in hospice care on February 10, 2022, sandwiched between her daughter Kate and her twin sister Arleen. (We’re using the word “sandwich” here because Eileen really loved food). As her sister told Kate a story about their childhood and Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana played in the background, Eileen took her last breath, ending her courageous battle with brain cancer. She is deeply loved and will be missed every day by family and friends.
Eileen Anne—and her twin sister, Arleen Mae—were born in San Diego, California, on January 2, 1947 to Earl and Olive Wagner. Preceded in death by her parents, Eileen is survived by her daughter, Kathleen VanDerAa, grandson, Hendrik VanDerAa, her twin sister, Arleen Sinon, sister, Marilyn Dugan, and brother, David Wagner.
Eileen attended Sacred Heart Academy, Our Lady of Peace High School in San Diego, and studied at University of San Diego. She graduated from University of Santa Clara, after completing her junior and senior years studying in Rome. While studying overseas, Eileen learned basic Italian and traveled extensively throughout Europe—with friends, and later with her twin sister—sharing many adventures. In lieu of staying in hotels, the twins often traveled by overnight train, stretched out across the seats of a first-class compartment or snoozing on each other’s shoulders.
After returning from Europe, Eileen completed Montessori training in Chicago before beginning her teaching career in San Diego. There she met and married Melvin Harold Carson in 1976. While the marriage was short-lived, it resulted in the greatest blessing of Eileen’s life: her daughter Kathleen (Kate).
In 1985, Eileen married Edward Leonard Nelson and moved to Port Orchard, Washington. She received her teaching certificate from Pacific Lutheran University and her Master’s in Educational Leadership from the University of Portland in 1998, and spent most of her teaching career in the South Kitsap School District. Eileen’s favorite years were spent at Hidden Creek Elementary—as reading specialist and later as school librarian—where she impacted the lives of many students.
Encouraging a love of reading in her students was the most rewarding aspect of teaching for Eileen—and her enthusiasm was contagious! Her greatest joy was seeing the growth in her students’ skills and the sense of pride they experienced. She had a particular affinity for students who struggled. Eileen was much loved by her colleagues and known for her quirky, fun personality.
Eileen enjoyed the freedom and independence found in her latter years. Well known for her love of gardening, she worked tirelessly to create a peaceful environment surrounding her home, and especially enjoyed the local birds and trees. Sensitive to beauty, Eileen enjoyed art and music and spending time on her hobbies—drawing, watching live opera and ballet, singing along with her player piano, reading Roald Dahl to her grandson, and catching up with her friends. The friendships she forged were long-lasting and deep. In honor of Eileen, please spend some time today enjoying your own company and doing something you love.