Darby Nelson Profile Photo
1948 Darby 2023

Darby Nelson

March 21, 1948 — June 6, 2023



On June 6, 2023, our dear sister Darby died at her home in Bartlesville, sending shock waves through our family and those who knew her.  Darby was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania on March 21, 1948, a gift of Spring to new parents Janice and William Nelson.  Within the year, the threesome returned to Bartlesville where Darby attended school, soon surrounded by two other siblings and neighborhood kids who lived on Maple Street.  Later, two more siblings were born whom she often looked after and entertained.  Darby showed creativity early, making ingenious homemade presents for her family and friends.  She also had a wicked sense of humor that could surprise us all, laughing until our stomachs hurt.   She attended the University of Kansas working toward a degree in Anthropology during the wild late 60s, making life-long friends. 

Darby moved to Denver with her significant other, John Adler, where they created a life revolving around nature, art, good food, friends, and family. So many good discussions and laughter around the dinner table. In 1986 they were joined by their Borzoi companion Chanel, who believed she was a lap dog and could run like the wind.   Darby had an appreciation for color, art, and beauty, be it in an art museum, the fabric store or in a mountain meadow. She also spent time delving into our family’s genealogy, having an excellent memory for stories.   She had a range of career experiences, including being a lab technician, support team for a computer graphics company, working at the store at the Bluestem Girl Scout office, and an administrative assistant at West of Boston. 

Darby and John parted ways when she returned to Bartlesville in 1996, where she lived until her death.  She was passionate about women’s rights and was active in The Women’s Network in Bartlesville.  She was a life-long learner, taking classes through the City of Bartlesville as well as OLLI, a continuing education program via Oklahoma State University. 

Darby also struggled with mental health issues, a thread running through our paternal and maternal ancestral lines.  May we all work toward removing the stigma of mental illness and offer healthy, loving, and compassionate ways to support the healing of those who suffer.

Darby is survived by her siblings Tom Nelson, Andrea Miller (husband Timothy Miller), Derek Nelson, Tambra Nelson (husband Jim Van Overschelde) and nieces Athena Van Overschelde (partner Casey Carpenter) and Eliza Van Overschelde. 

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Bartlesville branch of Grand Mental Health (https://www.grandmh.com/donate/) or the National Museum for Women in the Arts (https://secure.nmwa.org/donate/i/tribute) located in Washington D.C.  Place Darby’s name in the tribute or note section.  To leave an online condolence, visit www.honoringmemoriesbartlesville. com.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Darby Nelson, please visit our flower store.


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