Sara Jo Nelson

Sara Nelson, beloved wife, mother and friend died unexpectedly on March 31, 2018 surrounded by family and friends at St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise Idaho. 


Sara was born 1942 in Brawley California, the second daughter of Bob and Inez Lee.  She grew up in Modesto CA where she graduated from Thomas Downey High School, met and married Duane Nolen and raised two boys Barry and Brad.  Starting in 1967 they moved throughout CA and NV, eventually settling in Boise Idaho in 1977.  Sara and Duane were divorced in 1984.


Sara had a long and successful career in banking starting in 1979 with the First Security Bank of Idaho in Boise.  Her positive energy and enthusiasm for a banking career engendered respect from her peers and executive bank management.  Co-workers universally enjoyed working with her and respected Sara’s disciplined work ethic.  She was a great role model for others, one former female associate commenting “she was the best boss I ever had”.   


During her time at the Idaho bank Sara worked in a many different roles, from collections, to branch management, significant marketing management oversight responsibility, and the banks very robust insurance activities.  Sara continued to hone her skills as a banker and completed the banks highly regarded management training program and attended the prestigious Pacific Coast Banking School at the University of Washington. In 1986 Sara married Scott Nelson in Sun Valley ID.  She left the bank and was then employed by First Security Corp.


Scott and Sara traveled a wonderful love filled journey together for the next 32 years.  They moved to Salt Lake in 1988 when Scott was transferred. During her career with First Security Corp in Salt Lake she continued in the insurance and brokerage areas. She had a very wonderful and successful career in the world of finance and retired in 1995.


Sara loved to entertain in her lovely homes in Salt Lake, Henderson Nevada and Sun Valley. They were deeply involved in obtaining and putting on the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. On several occasions their home was used to entertain International Olympic voting members. They spent many evenings at events in Salt Lake representing First Security.


They had a new home built in Anthem Country Club in Henderson Nevada. That lasted only two or three years due to the fact that Scott could not master golf.  Sara was always looking for a new big and exciting project.  She had an idea, why not sell the Henderson house, the Salt Lake condo and the Sun Valley house and build a new house in Golden Eagle in Sun Valley?  It is well known that Sara loved to decorate her houses.


Sara was passionate about volunteer work. While living in Salt Lake she was an active member of Ballet West as both a member of the board and chair.  She was very active in the American Diabetes Association where she served on the board and executive committee. She volunteered at St. Luke's Hospital in Ketchum where she was on the Core (volunteer) board that she chaired for a period. Her real love for the hospital was working in the gift shop and getting it up and running.  She supported the Free Wheelchair Mission and traveled to Columbia with Bob and Jane Henley to deliver wheelchairs in remote areas.


Her last such work was for the Wood River Women's Foundation where she served as Treasurer for several years. Sara and Scott joined the First Presbyterian in Salt Lake and she became an Elder and chaired the Human Resources committee for the church. That membership for Scott and Sara was transferred to the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood where it remains today. 


Sara loved to travel and she taught Scott to enjoy it also. They visited over 30 countries in their combined and separate travels. There were several cruises which gave her the chance to dress up and get Scott dressed up as well. Sara's favorite trip was with a group of church friends to Turkey and Greece. This trip was hosted by Bob and Jane Henley and all traveled aboard the Sea Cloud sailing ship to visit locations where the Apostle Paul and St. John spent time. Their many visits to Hawaii were right up there on her list, especially when friends came along. 


Sara had an amazing smile that greeted everyone she met.  She was a loyal and fun friend, whether it was planning and taking a trip, sharing a glass of wine, going to lunch or cheering on this season’s Dancing with the Stars with her girlfriends.

Sara’s home and heart were open to her charitable organizations, her friends and most importantly to her family. Many evenings were spent around the dining room table talking and laughing after one of Sara’s home cooked meals. Sleeping in Mom’s/Grandma’s fluffy bed was always a treat, once you got through all the pillows.  Having the kids and grandkids with her made her happy.  She knew by heart, the birth dates of all her family and friends.

Her biggest joy was being with her husband Scott.  They travelled together, laughed together, took care of their family together and loved each other deeply.

Sara is survived by her husband, Scott Nelson; her children Barry Nolen, Wendi Nelson-Olsen (Kent), Greg Nelson (Dani), Brad Nolen (Teresa); Grandchildren, Amanda Nelson, Trevor Nolen, Mitchell Nelson, Jacob Nolen, Macie Nelson, Baker Nolen.  She was preceded in death by her father Robert Lee, mother Inez Lee and sister Eve Schaefer. 


A celebration of Sara's life will be held on Tuesday April 17, 2018, 2:00 PM at First Presbyterian Church in Boise ID (950 W. State Street). 

In lieu of flowers the family asks that you donate in Sara's memory to one of the following: 

American Diabetes Association 

Ballet West (Salt Lake City) 

Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood 

St. Luke’s Wood River Foundation