Nellie Robertson, Sky Valley historian and former writer for the Monroe Monitor, has died.
Robertson, 86, was born in Olympia Feb. 26, 1927, the middle child of Edwin and Fern Balmert. She graduated from Olympia High School in 1945 and married Bill Wagner. They had two children, and the family moved to Tacoma.
Robertson would not return to Olympia for 50 years. She was an active PTA mom in Tacoma through the 1950s, serving as local PTA president, then as president of the Tacoma Council of PTA. She also became a registered parliamentarian and served several statewide associations.
Her marriage ended in divorce and she remarried, after which she and husband Bill Robertson moved to Monroe.
It was then she went to work for the Monroe Monitor and Valley News, where she went on to win five awards for her stories on the health and society pages. She retired from her post as Lifestyle Editor in 1992.
“She was a good friend, very dedicated to her job and to Monroe, and a very hard worker,” said Howard Voland, former editor of the Monroe Monitor, who fondly remembered that she used to refer to herself as “a tough old broad.”
It wasn’t Robertson’s only journalist post; while living in Alaska with Bill for four years in Dillingham, and a brief stay in Petersburg, she was a writer for the Petersburg Pilot. Her political interests continued there as well, and she was elected mayor of Dillingham.
Robertson 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, she 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.
Robertson died Nov. 21, following a six-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Her son and daughter were with her at the Sequoia assisted living facility, where she had spent the previous several weeks. Prior to that, she had spent nine years living at the Boardwalk Apartments in downtown Olympia.
Robertson is survived by her daughter, Billie Wayt (Phil) of Olympia; her son, Bob “Barney” Wagner (Diane) of Graham, Wash.; her sister, Lois Wilson of Olympia; her brother, Edwin Balmert, Jr. (Joanne) of Spanaway, Wash.; 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 Robertson’s life will be held Tuesday, Nov. 26 at 11 a.m. at South Sound Manor Event Center, 455 North St. S.E., Tumwater, Wash.
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.