Constance H. Nielson
Connie was a strong, wise, talented woman who left her mark in this world through her devotion to family and service to others. She was ahead of her time in her commitment to others, her health, and her ability to "do it all." And she did all extremely well.
Connie was born in Tonopah, Nevada, to Marie and Carl Howe. She moved to her mother's childhood home in Portland after losing her father to tuberculosis at age 6. She thrived and "absolutely doted on" her beloved grandfather. Her resilient independence took root there and only grew over the years.
Her mother later married George Burnside, who adopted Connie. At Jefferson High School, she was voted to be on the school's Rose Festival Court, and it was at Jefferson where she met Arthur L. Bellis. The two married June 13, 1942. After the war, the couple lived in California, Arizona, and Oregon. They started a family and welcomed a daughter and son.
Connie strove to be—and was— an exceptional mother. She baked cupcakes and cookies and served as "Room Mom," became a Cub Scout Pack Leader, and never missed a performance or activity. Extremely talented, she sewed clothes, knitted afghans (Some would be auctioned to raise funds for nonprofit causes.), and created intricate crafts that remain treasures. All the while, she competed in Toastmistress International Club, placing third nationally.
Many organizations benefitted from Connie's extraordinary attention to detail and caring spirit. She raised funds for St. Mary's Academy, was school secretary at Bridlemile Elementary School, worked in the dean's offices at Lewis & Clark College and Lewis & Clark Law School, and served as director of Templeton Center at the College.
She and Arthur retired to their longtime vacation home at Netarts Bay. Not one to sit still, Connie soon returned to work, supporting the hospital administrator at Tillamook County General Hospital as well as becoming a very active volunteer. While retired, she also became a grandmother and loved being David's "Nanny."
Her extensive volunteer work provided years of valuable service to nonprofits in Portland and Tillamook, including her churches, William Temple House, several hospitals, OMSI, and the Portland Art Museum. For decades, she was a member of the Multnomah Athletic Club and an active member of Episcopal churches in Portland and Tillamook.
After returning to Portland following the death of Arthur, Connie married again at 80. She and longtime friend BJ Nielson enjoyed several years together at Netarts. After he passed away, she again returned to Portland to be with her family and was active and well-loved at Courtyard Village, Canfield Place, and other retirement settings. She will forever be remembered for her kindness, quick wit, and humble nature.
Connie is survived by her daughter, Jan Bellis-Squires (Raoul); son, Mark Bellis (Tom Howard); and grandson, David Bellis-Squires. A service will be held Saturday, March 25, 2017 at 2 p.m. at the Episcopal Parish of St. John the Baptist, 6300 SW Nicol Road, Portland, followed by a reception. Burial will be at Willamette National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to William Temple House in Portland, Oregon.