Ellen Elizabeth Clark Nelson

February 27, 1944 - February 01, 2024


Obituary For Ellen Elizabeth Clark Nelson

Ellen Elizabeth Clark Nelson, age 79, passed away from respiratory failure, peacefully and surrounded by loved ones on Thursday February 1, 2024.

Born in Racine, Wisconsin to Tom and Betty (Kastler) Clark, Ellen grew up in Racine and attended Horlick High School. After graduating Valedictorian from Horlick High, Ellen moved on to DePauw University where she studied English Literature. During her time at DePauw, her heart pulled her back to Wisconsin and she rekindled her high school romance with the love of her life, Robert “Bob” James Nelson. They were married after graduation in June 1966 and moved to Madison, Wisconsin where they both began Master of Arts in Teaching programs. Ellen then taught with the Wisconsin Schools before joining Bob as he completed his Officer Training in the U.S. Army. While Bob served in Vietnam, Ellen welcomed their son, Michael in May 1970.

After the birth of their daughter Susan in February 1972 and Bob’s graduation from UW-Madison, the family of four headed East to the Big Apple where they lived … for exactly 11 months, 12 days, 6 hours and 8 minutes … before returning to the Midwest. There she was able to find her life's work in volunteering, first in the public schools, then in the Fine Arts Community wherever they happened to be living. In Lima, Ohio she started as a volunteer at the Lima Art Association. She quickly progressed from volunteer, to employee, to Director of what became known as ArtSpace/Lima. She was the Director from 1985 to 1998, providing leadership as the organization grew from tiny community events and art classes to city-wide Art Fairs and Rally in the Square events on Friday nights. She inspired dozens of volunteers with her hard work and dedication. Under her leadership, ArtSpace attracted artists from not only throughout Ohio, but across the nation and even the world. Given the dramatic growth of the organization, she helped shepherd ArtSpace into a new building with dedicated artist studio space and ample room for classes. In tribute to all Ellen did for ArtSpace, a gallery to display artist's work was named in her honor and is open for events today.

Subsequent family moves took Ellen and Bob to St Cloud Minnesota, near their son Michael, and his future wife Marcy, who were living in Minneapolis. Ellen quickly established herself at The Paramount Center for the Arts, becoming Art Gallery Director. She worked tirelessly along with so many volunteers, to present and sell the work of local artists at the Gallery.

After caring for her mother and father in St Cloud, Ellen and Bob moved to Madison, Wisconsin in 2019 to be closer to Susan, her husband Mark and her grandson Oliver.

As a life-long stained glass artist, Ellen understood the value of art to life. She strived to connect local artists to their community, and to enrich the communities in which she lived with art. Whether it was developing new classes for all ages, writing endless grants for funding, or coming up with new ideas to showcase art in her community – Ellen was continually looking for ways to make those connections. After years of planning and executing them, Ellen loved to shop at any Art Fair featuring local artists. Her home was filled with treasures she found at the fairs, and she could often tell you the life story behind the artist who made each piece.

Ellen is survived by her loving husband of 57 years, Bob, her brother Tom (Laurie) Clark, her son Michael Nelson (Marcy Cheeseman), her daughter Susan (Mark) Little and her grandson, Oliver Little in addition to her brothers and sisters in-law, cousins, nieces and her nephew. She will be remembered with love.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks you to consider supporting ArtSpace/Lima, 65-67 Town Square, Lima, Ohio, 45801. Add in Memo Line: In Memory of Ellen Nelson.

Photos & Video

Add New Photos & Video


  • March 01, 2024

    So sad to hear about the passing of Ellen Nelson that wonderful lady whom I met while working at the Paramount Theatre and for whom I had great respect. My deepest condolences and sympathy to her family.

  • February 29, 2024

    Ellen supported and encouraged my artistic and teaching efforts in Lima. She forged Art Space from an empty brick building into a vibrant "city center." Late in our family's life we moved to the Minneapolis northern suburb of Elk River. When I walked into the Paramount in St. Cloud, MN, there was Ellen! We didn't skip a beat. We collaborated on art fairs, gallery shows, teacher workshops, children's classes, and more. Ellen worked as passionately at the Paramount as she did at Lima, OH. She was such an advocate for the arts, and her family and colleagues.

  • February 27, 2024

    I found my wife because of Ellen Nelson. Shortly after coming to Saint Cloud, Ellen starting buying her supplies at my business, Michael's Stained Glass Studio. Ellen was a delight to have as a friend. In July of 2000, while at a hospitality hour during a stained glass convention in Chicago, I spotted an attractive lady whose name tag, I thought said; "Lima, Ohio" I was going to ask her if she knew Ellen Nelson. But, as the words were about to come out of my mouth, I realized her name tag said Lima, Peru. I recovered just in time to use the "other" pronunciation of Lima. Beatriz answered, "Yes, I am from Lima, Peru!" We were married on July 6, 2001. Ellen loved to tell that story! Today is Feb, 27. Ellen's Birthday Beatriz and I miss her sweet smile.

  • February 21, 2024

    Even with a freshly broken wrist, Ellen (& Bob) joined us for a spectacular month long drive around New Zealand. She was very keen on seeing and experiencing the arts. Her enthusiasm enhanced the journey for all. Wishing peace to the family.

  • February 20, 2024

    I met Ellen through Paramount Theatre Art Gallery. She had such knowledge about the displays & the artists. Sincere Sympathies

  • February 19, 2024

    Ellen was trully a remarkable & admirable lady. I treasured my time at Art Space with she & Nancy. She inspired me to teach & docent, plus gave me the opportunity to create artwork for Lima post college when finding jobs in my field was tough. She will forever be remembered & celebrated with fondness & respect.

Add a Candle

Click a candle below to add a candle to your message.

what our families say

Tiffany Foster went out of her way to fulfill all my requests, talked me through problems I was facing, and tried to make me feel as comfortable as possible when I was a wreck, totally crushed, and I thank her with all of my heart for that.

James S. | July 2020

The professional manner of the staff made a difficult time a little easier.

Lynda R. | July 2020

Services provided for both parents were perfect, on time, and no issues. Brenda is awesome and strong!

Michael M. | July 2020

Skyler was absolutely amazing. She was so caring and helpful through this whole process. She even went above and beyond to meet with us in DeForest and even to make a stop at our home to drop off or pick up anything needed. While it was a small gesture, it was so helpful and greatly appreciated.

Brooke S. | Dec. 2020

Madison North East

2418 N. Sherman Avenue
Madison, WI 53704
Tel: 608-249-8257

Madison West

5701 Odana Road
Madison, WI 53719
Tel: 608-274-1000


220 S. Enterprise Drive
Verona, WI 53593
Tel: 608-845-6625

DeForest / Windsor

6924 Lake Road
DeForest, WI 53532
Tel: 608-846-4250