Dolores Nelson
Feb 20,1933---Aug 31,2020

For something like 30 years, Dolores Nelson went bowling once a week. During her illustrious bowling career (which included several league titles and a 2016 Most Improved Bowler trophy) she’d throw the ball, turn, and mozy back down the lane without looking to see how the pins landed. When she threw a strike or picked up a spare—which she did more often than she’d ever admit—Dolores would shrug her shoulders, unconvinced that she’d had anything to do with her own success. But Dolores bowled plenty of strikes during an 87-year life which came to a close this past Monday, August 31st.

Dolores Jean Davidson was born on February 20, 1933 in Kansas City, Kansas. She met Albert Dean Behrens sometime in the early 1950’s while she was working at Fairbanks Morse. The couple were avid dancers, and they twirled into a romance and were married. Albert (who went by Dean) and Dolores lived happily with their two sons Greg and Rick until lung cancer took Dean away from them in 1965. 

Dolores cared for her sons by herself until she was invited to a slot-car race to meet some schmuck named Jerry Nelson. It turned out he was not a schmuck at all, and by the late ‘60s Jerry and Dolores were married, bringing Jerry’s son, Eric into the family. They soon rounded out their squad numbers with a daughter, Melissa. They had several dogs over the years, but Josie the Boxer really stood out, as Dolores would remind you years after Josie had gone to the big dog park in the sky. 

Dolores worked as a medical transcriptionist at Allen Radiology for years and she and Jerry were longtime members of Calvary Baptist Church and then Grandview Park Presbyterian Church, where one of their sons, Rick, is still the Pastor. 

Jerry and Dolores shared a long life full of adventures. Dolores considered it an unnecessary risk to drive anywhere with less than half a tank of gas and would start the search for a fuel station in earnest anytime the needle dropped below the fifty percent mark. Despite this range-limiting handicap, the pair managed to log some impressive adventures on the road. Were it not for some quick thinking and good utilization of body mass from Jerry, the whole family might’ve been blown away in their pop-up trailer during a windstorm in central Kansas. They were Branson regulars, and for what must have been close to 40 years they made an annual summer trip to Horn Creek Lodge in Colorado, often bringing a grandkid or two along for good measure.

Jerry and Dolores loved having the grandkids around. For years they hosted the family for Thanksgiving dinner. All the kids, grandkids, and eventually great-grandchildren would pile onto the stairs or the couch for a big family photo. They’d frequently have the grandkids over and spend the night playing tiddlywinks or a board game, or watching westerns and making brownies. All grandkids can and will confirm that Grandma’s brownies are the best brownies. Full stop. No exceptions. 

Dolores liked her coffee black, loved a good puzzle, was a consummate solitaire player, and a dedicated Words-With-Friends-er. She adopted a love for soccer and specifically the US Women’s National Team, probably because her grandkids loved soccer and she loved her grandkids. She was incredibly generous with her time and resources, always willing to give to those she loved in their times of need. This was never more evident than when Jerry’s health began to decline and Dolores poured her whole self into the role of primary caregiver during his final years.

Jerry passed in January of 2016, but Dolores continued on caring for those around her. If she phoned you, her first question was usually “Are you home?”, not because she wanted you to stay home, but because she wanted to know where you were and that you were safe. Regardless of where you were when she called, if you had Dolores on the line it certainly felt like home.

Though she didn’t dance too much in her later years, Dolores would throw a little shimmy your way if she heard Hank Williams coming out of the radio. She’d be more likely to throw a shoe at you if she heard you listening to Johnny Cash (didn’t like his voice or the way he sang) or if she heard that you’d been smoking cigarettes.

She continued bowling, usually with her sons Greg and Rick, for as long as she physically could. And though she was very hard on herself when she bowled poorly (fooey-foot was her preferred expletive), she never changed her no-look strategy and never stopped being surprised when she did well. Her humility was unmatched, and it seemed sometimes as though she considered herself less-than or undeserving—of course that was never even remotely true.  

Dolores lives on through the love of her four children, her fifteen grandchildren, her fourteen great-grandchildren, her extended family at Grandview Park, and her neighbors past and present. She is now reunited with Dean and Jerry, and I’m sure Josie the Boxer is there too. 

The family will have a small graveside service for sharing and grief at Chapel Hill mausoleum on Wednesday, Septemter 9th at 3pm. In lieu of flowers you may send donations to La Cocina de La Paz (Kitchen of Peace) at Grandview Park Presbyterian Church, 1613 Wilson Blvd, Kansas City, Kansas (

Graveside Service
Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens
701 North 94th street
Kansas City
Zip Code:
Sep 09 ,2020
3:00 PM
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