Willa M. Nelson, 54, of Wausau, passed away at Aspirus Hospital with her family at her side on
Jan. 31, 2012 due to complications related to lung cancer which she had been fighting for the past year.
Willa was born on Kodiak Island, Alaska on January 28, 1958. She later moved to Bellingham, Washington where she met her husband, Bruce and
they were married on August 16, 1987. Shortly afterward they moved
from Washington to an old hobby farm outside of Wausau where Willa avidly pursued her hobbies of gardening, lapidary, silversmithing and rockhounding with her husband. In addition to these hobbies, Willa attained her blue belt in Tae Kwon Do before a back problem forced her to stop and saved her husband from further bruising during "practice sessions" at home.
Willa graduated with a degree in nursing from NTC in 1996 and she worked as a nurse in both occupational health and in long term geriatric care before deciding to pursue her dream of opening up a small herbal nursery which she operated as a hobby until just a couple of years ago.
Though Willa battled numerous health issues over the past few years, and had more than her share of sadness in her life, she always managed to find the joy and fun in almost any situation. Willa was on an endless quest to poke fun at any sacred cows and she viewed any overly serious or dour person as the ideal foil for a practical joke. Those of us who knew and loved her are filled with deep sorrow and grief at her passing, but to have known her is to know that she had no use for endless grief and rumination. And even now, as we reflect in sadness upon her life, we know that if she were here, she'd be the one laughing and cracking jokes, dressed in her finest tie-dyed overalls, just to make a point, though it was always left to others to figure out just what that point was.
Willa is gone now, but outside our house there are still some some of her footprints in the snow. But as this winter passes on and her remaining footsteps slowly melt away, the passing comes with the promise of spring, and the plants that she loved so much will once again rise up from the warming earth, and with them will always come the memories of her laughter and sweetness. So spring will come, and the grief will fade, but that which we most loved in you will never leave us.
We miss you, Willa. You'd be the first to become impatient with all the tears and sad faces, and even now I hear your full-throated laugh dragging us from morbid obsessions with the dialectics of good and evil, of life and death, reminding us that the meaning of life sometimes is nothing more than a smile. And that smile comes back every time we think of you.
Willa is survived by her husband, Bruce and her two sons Travis and Neil and her grandchildren Logan, Erica and Trever. She is also survived by her sibilings Billy, Gilbert, Tommy, Susan and Jackie in Anchorage, Alaska and her sister Robbie from Searcy, Arkansas.
Services for Willa are pending. She would want to be remembered with laughter rather than tears, so those who would be interested, please contact her husband Bruce for further information.
Brainard Funeral Home, Wausau is assisting the family with arrangements.
On-line condolences may be given at www.brainardfuneral.com