Elizabeth “Betty” Nicholson died peacefully from cancer January 19.
Throughout her life, Nicholson served the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and communities across the country, from New York City to Lubbock, Texas, to Juneau, Alaska. She was a fourth-generation Presbyterian leader.
Born in China to missionary parents and educated at the College of Wooster, Nicholson began her professional life as a director of Christian Education at First Presbyterian Church in Little Falls, New York. After a brief stint there, she became an editor for the Board of Foreign Missions at the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA) offices in New York City, where she met her husband, the Rev. Dr. Robert D. Nicholson (HR, Seattle Presbytery).
Among many other services to her church, Nicholson helped form the Palo Duro Union Presbytery that brought together 65 congregations of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS) and the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (UPCUSA) before the two denominations merged.
During her 14 years as a member, elder, chorister, and teacher at Lake City Presbyterian Church (Seattle, WA) she was known for her Biblical knowledge, musical skill, and hospitality. She repeatedly and graciously entertained church members, groups and officers in her home. In the Lake City PC sanctuary her son and daughter were married and two of her three grandsons were baptized.
Betty’s experience with aging prompted her to initiate the Lake City PC Care Giver Support Group that continued under her leadership for nearly a decade. She was longtime Chair of the Task Force on Aging of the Church Council of Greater Seattle; a deacon at the Woodland Park Presbyterian Church, Seattle; Board Development Chair for the Board of Presbyterian Retirement Communities NW; and instrumental in planning and building of their newest Retirement Community, “Skyline At First Hill.”
She served professionally as Regional Manager for the Volunteer Chore Ministry to help older persons live independently in their homes and was a Resident Service Director for 5 senior housing projects for low-income seniors sponsored by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle. She completed master level studies in Gerontology at the University of Washington’s Institute on Aging and brought to that experience two years of study in patient education at the School of Medicine from Texas Tech University.
She has served the national Presbyterian Church(USA) as a founder of POAM, the Presbyterian Older Adult Ministry Network; led training conferences at Montreat in North Carolina and Mo Ranch in Kerrville, Texas; served on the Presbytery of Seattle’s Committee on Ministry and Moderator of the Presbytery’s Permanent Judicial Commission(PJC); followed by service on the Synod of Alaska Northwest’s PJC.
In retirement with Bob, they served the Chapel by the Lake, Auke Bay, Juneau, Alaska where she was active with the Committee on Ministry of the Presbytery of Alaska. She lived her last four years at retirement communities in Seattle grateful for the blessing of family, neighbors, and friends.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, February 7, at 2:00 p.m. at Lake City Presbyterian Church in Seattle, with a graveside service at 3:00 p.m. the following day at Woodlawn Cemetery in Snohomish, Wash.
Donations to the Betty Nicholson Memorial Fund, which will be shared between Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and Heifer International, can be made at any Wells Fargo branch.