Mary-lu Nelson (née Ferguson) of Maplewood, New Jersey died in her home surrounded by her husband and sons in the early hours of Monday, July 10, 2017. She was 57 years old.
Mary-lu is survived by many devoted family members: her husband, Jack Nelson; her children and stepchildren, Matthew Nelson and his wife Kasandra, Karl Ward, Marissa Boyer and her husband Aaron, Ian Ward and his wife Johanna, Graham Ward and his wife Bethany Talley, Annaliese Stettler and her husband Andy, and Nelson Ward; her parents, John and Mae Ferguson; her siblings Norma Silverstein, Robert Ferguson, Margaret Ferguson, and Glen Ferguson; and her nine grandchildren. She is preceded in death by her brother Al Ferguson and stepson Alexander Nelson.
Mary-lu was born on November 2, 1959 in Southington, Connecticut to John and Mae Ferguson of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. As the first of her family born in the United States, Mary-lu looked forward to extended visits in Cape Breton every summer, and her fondness for the people and places she knew there was infectious. She graduated from Brigham Young University in 1981 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology, but always regarded her family as her most important and lasting work. In 1999 she married her second husband, Jack Nelson, and began the work of blending their two families. With Jack she became an exuberant globetrotter, admiring the history, crafts, and culinary arts of cultures across five continents.
Through her involvement in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mary-lu developed a talent for fellowship and community service that benefited countless people over the course of her life. Her greatest satisfaction in these efforts came by knowing that everyone was happy with themselves and one another—especially those who might be overlooked or underappreciated.
Mary-lu passed away after a two-and-a-half-year fight with breast cancer. She will be remembered for her resilience and unfailing optimism, as well as for the kindness, devotion, and love of adventure that always made her the life of the party.
There will be a wake from 3–5 pm and 7–9 pm on Friday, July 14 at Bradley, Smith & Smith Funeral Home (415 Morris Ave, Springfield, NJ 07081).
The funeral will be held on Saturday, July 15 at 3:00 pm in Maplewood at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (1600 Springfield Ave, Maplewood, NJ 07040). There will be another viewing beforehand at the church from 1–2:30 pm.
An additional service will be held in the Salt Lake City area on Saturday, July 22 in the mid-morning. More information to follow.