October 19, 1922 – February 11, 2021
In her own words, “Helen Alice Wells was born on a cold and wintery night on October 19, 1922, in a house about ten miles out of Hoquiam, Washington.” She was the second of seven children born to Warren H. and Helen Mercer Wells. She passed quietly and painlessly into the presence of God on February 11, 2021, at 98 years old. She was much loved, and laughed very well.
Alice graduated from Hoquiam High School in 1939, and from Peterson’s Commercial School in 1941. She married Herbert W. Nelson Jr. in July of 1943 and they had two children; Jim and Nancy. The family eventually moved into a home in the Mount Baker area of Seattle in 1950, and remained there for the next 53 years until Alice decided to take up assisted living. Alice worked for a Seattle legal firm for 35 years and attended St. Clement’s Episcopal Church for more than 50 years until distance and her declining health prevented it.
Her activities extended from Cub Scout leader to Wall Street West investor (and occasional president), from stamp collector to community organizer, engaging hostess (and great cook) to seasoned traveler, and she was tireless in her efforts to impact the world around her through her generosity, personal outreach, church, community, and politics.
As a girl Alice used to climb a particular tree to read where no one would find her. Her love of books continued throughout her life as a voracious reader, and over an expansive range of topics. That legacy continues, being graciously imparted to her children. Alice delighted in reading and writing haiku, and belonged to Haiku Northwest. This haiku of hers was written about ten years before she passed:
my one regret
so many books unread
She wrote, “I became interested in haiku while reading children’s haiku in a Hawaiian newspaper. At first it enlivened and condensed my journaling. Then I attended a Seattle Public Library workshop, which led me to Haiku Northwest. Such interesting people write haiku.”
Alice loved people, and while she could be very strong in her convictions, she was consistently concerned about the needs of others. She was scrupulously honest. Alice loved her family, and her ability to laugh at herself was a gift given to her children.
we thought was ours
cold creek water
hide—or be bait
Brussels Sprout, Francine Porad and Connie Hutchison, editors, 1992
at day’s end
can’t change the channel
with a calculator
dispute with umpire
all the way to the dugout
kicking his hat
Past Time: Baseball Haiku, Jim Kacian and Cor van den Heuvel, editors; Red Moon Press, 1999
crease of light
in a dark morning sky
sound of bridge traffic
To Find the Words, Haiku Northwest members’ anthology, 2000