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Volunteer served church for many years

| Friday, Aug. 12, 2005

It was easy to know when Shirley L. Nelson was around.

All one had to hear was that infectious laugh.

"She had a laugh that would carry about 20 blocks," said Ellen Pope, Nelson's daughter.

"It really echoed. People would hear that laugh and wonder 'Is Shirley here?' and they soon found she was. Anybody who heard her laugh had to laugh with her. She was a very happy, jolly person."

Shirley L. Nelson, 64, of Latrobe, died Tuesday, August 9, 2005 in Excela Health Latrobe Area Hospital.

She carried that laugh through some 20 years of service to the Latrobe United Methodist Church. Nelson was an office staff volunteer and organized Sunday school fellow time, fundraisers, dinners and vacation Bible school.

When she sought volunteers, those on the other end of her phone calls heard that familiar laugh.

Debbie Herwick, the church's administrative assistant, said she received an e-mail recently from someone that read, "I will always remember her laugh before she asked for cookies."

Herwick has been with the church about seven years. When she came on board, Nelson helped her to adapt to her new job.

"When I started here, she basically showed me everything," Herwick said. "She knew all the inner workings of the church. She knew who belonged to who and who was related. She was always here helping in the office. She was always there to do the little tasks that no one knew about but had to be done. She was a very special person, loved by everyone."

Nelson also was the lay equalization representative to the United Methodist Annual Conference; president of the United Methodist Women Society; assistant Sunday school superintendent, and served on the Mission Committee. She also served the Western Pennsylvania Conference of United Methodist Women as the Membership, Nurture and Outreach chairwoman and as hostess of its School of Christian Mission at California University. She belonged to the Greensburg District United Methodist Women, of which she served as president, on the Global Concerns committee, as secretary of public relations, and was serving as the Latrobe Sub District Leader.

"She started going to the (Latrobe) United Methodist Church and found a lot of new friends," Pope said. "The more things she joined, the more friends she made. She has friends all over the tri-state area. She was a very giving, loving person. She would do anything for anyone. Everybody really, really appreciated her."

Pope said Nelson's involvement with the church really made her mother happy.

"She started to feel good about herself. It helped a lot," Pope said. "She liked to volunteer us, but we didn't mind. We knew how happy it made her. She always put family first, next would be the church. We were running barely first, but we were there."

Nelson is survived by her husband, Clair "Art" Nelson; three children, Ellen Louise Pope and her husband, Thomas, of Latrobe, Jeffrey A. Nelson, of Loyalhanna, and Joseph Victor Nelson and his wife, Beverly, of South Greensburg; five grandchildren, Thomas, Richard, Robert, Zachary and Nicholas; five brothers, Curtis, William, Richard, James and David Joiner, all of Brookville; four sisters, Florence Williams, Nancy Pierce, Patty Lou Joiner, all of Brookville, and Linda Sue Jefferys, of Murrysville; brother-in-law Carl Nelson and his wife Peg, and sister-in-law, Anna Mae Stoltenberg and her husband, Ken.

She was preceded in death by her parents, E. Lee and E. Louise (Minick) Joiner.

Visitation will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. today at the Frederick Funeral Home Inc., 1543 Ligonier St., Latrobe. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday in Latrobe United Methodist Church, with the Rev. Aimee W. Twigg officiating. Interment will be in St. Matthew Cemetery, Brookville. The family requests everyone go directly to the church Saturday.

Additional visitation will be 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday at the McKinney Funeral Home, Brookville, with services Monday at a time to be announced.

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