Karin Christine Nelson
Karin Christine Nelson, a 37 year resident of the Bay Area, passed away peacefully at California Pacific Medical Center, San Francisco, on June 22nd. Born on April 8th, 1947 in Salt Lake City, Utah, Ms. Nelson moved to L.A. to attend Occidental College, from which she graduated with a double major in Art History and Sociology in 1969. In the early 70s, she traveled widely throughout Europe and Southeast Asia, and lived in Japan for three years teaching English and studying traditional textiles. Upon moving to the Bay Area, she did graduate coursework in Museum Studies and got her master’s degree in Career Development at JFK University. Starting with the Museum of Craft and Folk Art in 1983, Ms. Nelson worked as a curator, registrar, author, and editor for several SF museums, most notably originating and co-managing the exhibit “The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps,” which has toured four museums, including the Smithsonian, since 2006 and will travel to Japan in 2013. In
1992, she also began working as a career counselor for City College of San Francisco, where she became known for her distinct ability to help all types of individuals in job placement. A resident of Albany for the past two decades, she served on the Albany Arts Committee, the Albany Waterfront Committee, and the Alameda County Arts Commission, as well as volunteered at Albany public schools. Ms. Nelson was a tireless supporter of the arts, education, and the environment, and was extremely passionate about helping others, especially her two children. She was a generous friend and colleague; a dedicated mother and daughter; and an extremely capable, intelligent, and selfless individual. She will be missed by all who knew her. Ms. Nelson
is survived by her mother, Ingeborg Nelson; her brother, Kenneth Nelson, Jr; and two daughters, Katarina and Amalia Nelson-Croner. A memorial service will be held on Sunday, August 7th, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley, from 2-5 pm. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the CCSF Karin Nelson Legacy Scholarship at:
Karin Nelson Legacy Scholarship, c/o Scholarship Office; MUB 130B, 50 Phelan Ave; San Francisco, CA 94112; or the Karin C. Nelson Memorial Fund at: The Foundation for the Arts in Alameda County, Karin C. Nelson Memorial Fund; P.O. Box 29004; Oakland, CA 94604-9004
By various paths and at various times, three of my high school friends came to live in the San Francisco Bay Area and, for more than thirty years, we've met for lunch two or three times a year to share our successes and disappointments. Until Karin died suddenly in 2011, she had provided the rest of us with stories of a single mother's busy life as well as delicious desserts.
I don't remember how Karin and I met at Olympus but we became good friends as lab partners in Mr. Richards' chemistry class. We were a perfect team because it was always a toss-up as to which of us would be a bigger klutz handling a Bunsen burner and beakers of reagents.
During our senior year, winter Sundays would often find Karin, April Voorhees, Lori Roby, Nancy Kemp and me on the slopes at Alta. While Lori was indoors warming herself by the fire and Nancy and I were kick-turning our way down difficult slopes, Karin was effortlessly schussing down black diamond runs, having cast off her klutzy persona the minute she strapped on skis.
Karin always seemed painfully self-conscious in high school so I was surprised to learn that she sang backup in a girl group while she was a student at Occidental. Even more astonishing to me was that she found the confidence to spend several years after graduating from college traveling through the Far East on her own.
It was probably about fifteen years after we'd left Olympus that Karin, Lori, Nancy and I met again in San Francisco and began having lunch together. All of us were working our way into adulthood, Karin just starting a family. Over the years Karin would often complain about how little she was accomplishing but to the rest of us she always seemed to be accomplishing quite a lot. Despite the demands of raising two daughters while working full-time, Karin was organizing and mounting exhibitions for the Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco and finding the time (and the energy) to volunteer for several local arts committees. She lived long enough to see both her daughters take wing and to see one of the exhibitions she organized in San Francisco remounted at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C.
When my family moved to Salt Lake in 1960, I despaired of finding new friends to replace those I had left behind in Seattle. But, fortunately, I did find friends at Olympus, good friends with whom I shared the terror (or was it fun?) of high school. Fifty years later I feel incredibly lucky to have had friends like Karin with whom I've shared even more.