Carolyn Nelson



Jan. 27, 1940 — July 1, 2021

Always passionate about music, Carolyn Sue Alderman was born in Eugene, Oregon, on Jan. 27, 1940, to Alton L. “Doc” and Bonnie (Reeder) Alderman. The family moved to Portland while Sue’s dad went to medical school, then to Seaside, Oregon, where Doc practiced medicine.

When Sue was in the sixth grade, the family moved to Athena, Oregon, where she attended Athena Grade School and McEwen High School, graduating in 1958. Sue attended Linfield College, graduated magna cum laude with a double major in Spanish and music, and met her future husband, George Everette Nelson, over a frog in biology lab. They fell in love on choir tour. On June 10, 1962, they married in Athena.

Sue taught Spanish and music in Seattle while George attended medical school at the University of Washington. Early in their marriage, they traveled to Costa Rica to provide measles inoculations during an epidemic, with Sue translating for George as he gave the vaccinations. George’s medical career took them to Cleveland, Ohio, and Burlington, Vermont.

In 1975, they moved to Pendleton, Oregon, where George practiced medicine and Sue taught piano, played the organ at churches all over town, and became an accompanist extraordinaire for theatre, chorale, and any soloist who needed her. Her hands were rarely still. She was the proud and active board president of the Oregon East Symphony at the time of her death.

Besides her music, Sue loved reading, traveling, dogs and horses. She and George were among the early participants in the Pendleton Round-Up Wagon Train each June. Sue took exchange students under her wing and happily kept in touch. She had a kind spirit and loving heart; she was gracious and welcoming.

Survivors include her beloved husband, George; son, Michael (Gemma), of Spokane Valley, Washington; daughter, Laurie (Glen Metzler), of Lebanon, Oregon; sister, MaryAlice Ridgway, of Pendleton; brothers, Robert Alderman (Debbie), of Warner Robins, Georgia, and Thomas Alderman (Irene), of Springfield, Oregon; and nieces and nephews, Darcey Ridgway, Allison Alderman, Adrienne Alderman, Greg Alderman, Jessica Alderman, Chris Alderman, Clay Alderman, Caspian Alderman, Julie Nelson-Christoph, Kevin Nelson, Evan Nelson and Ryan Nelson.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Pendleton First Presbyterian Church, Oregon East Symphony, Linfield University, the University of Washington School of Medicine scholarship fund, or your favorite charity.

A memorial will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021, at the Pendleton First Presbyterian Church. Join us in raising a glass in Sue’s honor — if it’s Scotch, drink it like water. If it’s water, drink it like Scotch.

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My most sincere sympathy goes out to the friends and family members of Sue Nelson. I just learned today of her sudden death and my heart is aching for all who knew and loved Sue. I met her many years ago when I became a member of the OES Symphony and it will be hard to return to music this fall without Sue being there. We have all been blessed by knowing her and she will live on in our memory. ♥️

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