Janet Lee (Bilby) Nelson, age 86, passed away Tuesday morning January 17, 2023 at the Villa Manor Care Center surrounded by family and friends.
Janet was born May 18, 1936 in Warsaw, Indiana to Margaret (Haworth) and Paul Bilby. She graduated from Warsaw High School in 1954. She attended Indiana Central and later graduated in 1959 from the University of Dayton with a B.A. in business. After college she fulfilled a lifelong dream of living in the West. She moved to Denver, Colorado and worked at May D&F as a buyer and later as a claims adjustor for the Colorado Department of Labor.
She met Richard Nelson and they were married at the Evanston EUB Church in Denver on November 24, 1962. The couple celebrated their 60th anniversary in November of 2022. Janet and Richard moved to Alamosa, Colorado for two years, returning to Denver in 1964. The couple bought their first and only home in Lakewood where they raised their three daughters. Janet started working with children in 1976 as a Title 1 reading tutor. Later on she started a before and after school daycare at Evanston United Methodist Church. The love of children, her ability to connect with children and her loving care was evident. She was born to be a mother and a grandmother and she was very good at it.
Janet had a driving passion to advocate for women and children and found the perfect organization in the United Methodist Women (now known as United Women in Faith). She worked on the local, district and conference level and gathered a large number of companions in doing the work that needed to be done to address the concerns of women and children. She would often say that she earned multiple degrees when considering all the global studies and mission works she did.
Janet had an intense interest in family. She came from a wonderful large and loving family and was always proud to be a Bilby. She loved researching family genealogy and visiting family sites. She kept meticulous family records and created many scrapbooks. She adored her family and was ever present at births, birthdays, high school, and college graduations. She and her family spent many weekends, holidays, and times at her parents ranch in Conifer. This was a favorite place for her children to go and the site of many Bilby family reunions.
She will be known for her ability and love of sewing. Her first purchase when she moved to Denver was a Singer sewing machine and till the day she passed she used that machine to enrich the lives of her children and friends.
If you were a friend of Janet’s, you were a friend for life. She kept in touch with friends from all aspects of her life and her Christmas card list was extensive. She devoted her later years to taking care of friends with health issues, driving them to appointments and visiting them. She was a member of many groups including Cheery Chicks, SOS, and STARS. Richard had such a passion for East High School and Janet supported him by attending many events, following the East High School Basketball teams, and helping out at EHS alumni events.
Janet loved traveling and visited her families in North Dakota and New Jersey often. She always looked forward to her sister reunions in Arizona and Minnesota and especially those close to the ocean. She enjoyed an Alaska cruise with Richard. Much of her travel included United Methodist Assemblies and schools of missions across the country. One of her favorite things to do was plan Bilby reunions, especially those at Woodland and Estes Park.
Besides her husband Richard, Janet is survived by daughters Kristine Askerooth (Doug), Valarie Lee (Rick), and Rachel Tefft (Phillip). She is also survived by five grandsons Zachery Lee, Alex Askerooth, Brendan Lee, Austin Lee, and Travis Askerooth as well as their partners Deanna Shaw, Katie Franklin, Ally Laskowski, and Alyssa Martin. She has two loving sisters, Betty Lee and Eloise Jones and a brother John Bilby, as well as too many family members and friends to name.
Janet was sweet, kind, extremely generous and had a deep and abiding faith. Her parents were her role models and she became a great role model for her daughters and they have continued that tradition with their own children. A great mother affects eternity.
A Celebration of Life service will be held Saturday, February 18th 1:00 pm at University Park United Methodist Church, 2180 S. University Blvd. Denver, CO 80210. Light refreshments will be served in the church fellowship hall following the service.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to any of the following:
-University Park United Methodist Church (https://uparkdenver.com/?page_id=1052)
-United Methodist Women UMCOR Missions (https://umcmission.org/advance-project/999895/)
-Agape Hospice Care (https://agapehospicecare.com/donate/.