Nellie Robertson of Olympia, Washington passed away November 21, 2013 following a six-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Her son and daughter were at her side at the Sequoia assisted living facility in Lacey where she had been a resident for several weeks. Previously she lived for over nine years at the Boardwalk Apartments in downtown Olympia.
Nellie was born in Olympia on February 26, 1927, the middle child of Edwin and Fern Balmert. After graduation from Olympia High School in 1945, marriage to Bill Wagner and the birth of her two children, the family moved to Tacoma. She did not return to Olympia for 50 years.
During the time in Tacoma, Nellie was an active PTA mom and was president of the local PTA and served as president of the Tacoma Council of PTA. During this time, she became a registered parliamentarian and served several statewide associations.
After a divorce and remarriage Nellie and her husband Bill Robertson moved to Monroe, Washington where she worked in several writing capacities for the Monroe Monitor and Valley News. During her time there she won five writing awards for her society page and health articles. She retired from the Monitor as Lifestyle Editor in 1992.
Also during her time away from Olympia, she and Bill also lived briefly in Petersburg, Alaska and four years in Dillingham, Alaska. In Petersburg, Nellie was a writer for the Petersburg Pilot, and a highlight of her time in Dillingham was being elected mayor.
Nellie loved writing and historical research. While in Monroe, she vowed to write the history of Monroe, Washington and a novel. She accomplished and exceeded both goals, having written two history books on Monroe and six novels. Her books all weave a fictional story around history. At 86, she was at work on her seventh novel until her illness.
Often referred to as the Snohomish County historian, Nellie was a contributing writer for the Women’s Legacy Project of Snohomish County and historylink.org.
She was active in Rebekah Lodge and IOOF over the years and served in many positions and elected Noble Grand twice. Four generations of her family have been members. She also served as secretary for an Eagles Lodge Auxiliary.
Nellie is survived by her daughter, Billie Wayt (Phil) of Olympia; and her son, Bob “Barney” Wagner (Diane) of Graham, Washington; her sister, Lois Wilson of Olympia; her brother, Edwin Balmert, Jr. (Joanne) of Spanaway, Washington; and several nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her first husband, Bill Wagner, and her second husband, Bill Robertson.
A funeral service followed immediately by a celebration of Nellie’s life will be held Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. at South Sound Manor Event Center, 455 North St. SE, Tumwater, WA.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Nellie Robertson Journalism Scholarship Fund in care of The Zonta Club of South Puget Sound Foundation, P.O. Box 6555, Olympia, WA 98507.
Arrangements are with Funeral Alternatives of Washington, 360-753-1065. Please leave memories at www.FuneralAlternatives.org.