Mary Elizabeth Hagen Neilsen (Betty)
Mary Elizabeth Hagen Neilsen (Betty), age 87, of Maryville, TN, passed away December 28, 2007 at Blount Memorial Hospital. She was born May 10, 1920 in New Brunswick, NJ. She was one of four daughters who grew up on her parent’s dairy farm doing men’s work. She graduated from High School in Flemington, NJ, with perfect attendance, and received a scholarship to the New Jersey College for Women, now Douglass College. In 1942 she completed her RN diploma at Muhlenberg Hospital at a time when nursing students worked 12 hour days, 7 days a week. For many years she was head of the delivery room. While raising 3 children and working full time she returned to college and earned her BS in Nursing and pursued a Masters in Pediatrics. Around this time Muhlenberg was developing a four year nursing program and invited Betty to join the faculty. She worked there until retiring in 1982. She was a music enthusiast participating in both choral music and instrumentally on piano and baritone horn. She was a faithful attendee of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and Opera. She was preceded in death by brother Albert, sister Alice Coleman, parents Albert and Mary Wilcox Hagen, and husband Robert L. Neilsen. She is survived by daughters and sons-in-law Nancy R. Neilsen and Peter Nerzak, Deborah N. Zahler and Jim Zahler; son David H. Neilsen; grandsons Jonah and Christopher Nerzak, Jimmy (wife Amy), Jeremy, and Jonathan Zahler (fiancé Megan Felmlee), and Benjamin Neilsen; sisters Ruth Rinehart and husband Jack, and Barbara Wilson; nieces Barbara Coleman, Susan Hender and Kathy Paderson, and nephews Karl and Erik Wilson. She was immensely pleased and proud of great-grandchildren Ava and Evan Zahler. Although Betty moved to Blount County late in life, she felt passionate about this place and the friends she made here. She delighted in the wonderful neighbors she had and the special fellowship with friends at New Providence Presbyterian Church and the Blount Memorial Wellness Center. She will be remembered for a lifetime of steadfast and unyielding devotion to the education, health, and well-being of her family.
A memorial service will be held Monday, December 31, 2007 at 2 p.m. at New Providence Presbyterian Church with friends received after the service. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Blount County Public Library, 508 North Cusick Street, Maryville, TN 37804.