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Helen Marie (Prater) Nelson
March 29, 1939 ~ November 29, 2023 (age 84) 84 Years Old
Helen Marie (nee Prater) Nelson, 84, of Semmes, Alabama passed away on November 29, 2023, in her daughter Dee Dee’s home while in Hospice care.
Helen was a devout Christian and spent many years serving God through witnessing, helping others prepare for eternal life, and shepherding her family.
She was born in Alabama in 1939 to Nell Nettles and Wade Hampton Prater, but was mostly raised by her paternal grandmother, Viola. Helen had fond memories of her grandmother and chose to emulate her grandmother’s care, compassion, and nurturing nature as a mother and grandmother to her own children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Helen was the youngest of four children born to Nell and Wade. Helen began supporting herself at a young age and, although she did not graduate high school, she attained her GED at age 22 and took college courses for enrichment as an older adult.
Helen was artistic and mechanically inclined. She rallied her innate abilities to become an upholsterer and into a successful upholstery business for over 30 years. After her self-employment she had several follow up careers including working as a house mother for a group home, was a Vista volunteer tutoring individuals seeking their GED, and worked until her retirement in 2005 as a bank teller for Brannan Bank. She continued to practice upholstery as a side business because her talents were so highly sought after. She also enjoyed the creative outlet and extra income the side business afforded her.
When she did retire, she celebrated by taking her children and grandchildren on a trek to the Dillard House in Dillard, GA, Luray Caverns in Virginia, and to Washington D. C. to celebrate July 4th in our nation’s capital. She wanted to gift a trip of a lifetime.
Helen and her husband, Clarence Richard Nelson met and married in 1959. They soon welcomed their first child, Clarence Richard, Jr. (Ricky). Three years later Deborah Lynn (Debi) arrived. In Six more years, their second daughter Viola Dionne (Dee Dee) transpired. Finally, Yvonne Leigh (Leigh) their fourth child and third daughter arrived nearly 13 years after the first. There were many folks who recognized the age spread meant they simultaneously had one in kindergarten and one in college.
Helen loved her children, but her greatest delight were her many grandchildren. It is likely that being “Grandma” was her favorite role in life. She loved to cook for her family and making goodies for the grandkids were a high priority. In addition to making many lovely and tasty treats over the years, Grandma kept a stash of “Grandma Snacks” in a special drawer in her room. Whenever a young one stopped by to visit, they knew they could count on Grandma to have a special treat and a snuggle awaiting them. She had 10 grandchildren and, so far, 15 greatgrandchildren.
Helen was an active member and kept the nursery at Lott Road Church of God for several years. She loved her church family. Later, when she became too ill to venture out, she began watching services online.
Helen perfected the art of cooking, canning, soap making, quilting, and sewing. She had a lovely voice and loved singing. She enjoyed completing puzzles, but only if they had 1000 or more pieces. She was an avid reader and, of late, Christian literature was her favorite genre.
Helen was preceded in death by her daughter Leigh, her siblings Jerry and Betty, her parents Nell and Wade, and her grandmother Viola.
Helen leaves behind her children Ricky, Debi (Larry), and Dee Dee (Johnny); her grandchildren Sommer, Brianna, Randi, Joshua, Julia, Cody, Bethany, Teresa, Tonie Ann, and Nicole; her great-grandchildren Jordyn, Ryland, Cameron, Colton, Kilyer, Jameson, Rhyann, Radin, Noah, Riley, Carson, Konner, Elijah, Amelia, and Carter; and her sister Jean.
A celebration of life will be held Friday, December 15, 2023, from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm at Hope Springs Church, 4276 McCrary Rd #F, Semmes, AL 36575. Then, at 1:00 pm family and friends are welcome to attend a graveside prayer service at Pine Crest Cemetery, 1939 Dauphin Island Pkwy, Mobile, AL 36605.