Rawlins native Valerie Lynn Nelson, 71, passed on July 20th, 2023, in Greeley, CO, surrounded by the love of her daughters and granddaughters.
Valerie was born June 27th, 1952, in Falls City, NE to Arthur Clement Nelson and Merle “Ramona” Handley-Nelson. Being 1 of 6 children, born in a 10-year span, Valerie made sure to imprint her place amongst nearly all brothers. As a child she helped deliver eggs with the family, was a Camp Fire Girl, Jobs Daughter, an active member of the First United Methodist Church, and also enjoyed spending the summers on her mother’s family farm in Shubert, NE, and her father’s family farm in Baltic, SD. Valerie went all the way through school in Rawlins, but during her senior year she went to Medicine Bow High School and S.E. Consolidated High School in Stella, NE where she graduated from in 1970. Not long after, she married her first husband, Danny Oberlander. Just 4 days before she turned 20 years old, she gave birth to her first daughter, Tara Lynn.
In 1974 she followed in her father’s footsteps and started her career with the Union Pacific Railroad as a janitor, then crew caller. She would later become the first women train dispatcher in the Eastern District of the UPRR, and the first woman Locomotive Engineer in Wyoming. She worked for the railroad for twenty-four years, until a disability ended her career in 1996. During that time she married again to Mike Hall, and had 2 more children, Lauren Michelle and Taylor Shawn.
Valerie did many things in her life, such as furthering her education and getting her Associates of Arts Degree from Western Wyoming Community College in 2011 with a 4.0 GPA, being a Girl and Boy Scout leader, a Sunday school teacher, was the Carbon County chairwoman for the Democratic Party, an Election Judge and a member of the Daughters of the Revolutionary War. She helped countless people find sobriety through Alcoholics Anonymous while also being sober for 33 years. Valerie was also an amazing artist in countless mediums: painting, jewelry making, crafts, with her favorite being watercolor painting. She also painted an antelope for the Rawlins Pronghorn Pride Art Competition. She loved to spend time with family and friends, staying current with news and politics, shopping, traveling; she was always wanting to be on the go! Valerie was also in such books as Legendary Locals of Rawlins and has a photo hanging in the Cheyenne Depot Museum.
Surviving Valerie are her daughters Tara (Robert) Williams of Rawlins, Wy, and Lauren Hall of Greeley, CO, granddaughters Kelsey Hunter of Kalispell, MT and Karleigh Overbeck of Rawlins, Wy, grandson Jason Hoffman of Worland, Wy, brothers Arthur and Gregory Nelson of Rawlins, Wy, and sister Sonja (Richard) Kraft of Malibu, Ca, as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles.
She is preceded in death by her son Taylor Hall, her brothers Braden and Noel Nelson, and her parents Arthur and Merle “Ramona” Nelson.
Her services will be held as follows: a visitation on Friday, July 28, 2023, from 5:00pm - 7:00pm at the Casada Funeral Home in Rawlins, Wy. The interment is on Saturday, July 29th, 2023, at 1:00pm at the Rawlins Cooperative Parish, with the burial following at Saratoga, Wy. Cemetery at 3:30pm. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations should be made to an Alzheimer’s or Lewy Body Dementia research program.
The funeral service for Valerie will be streamed live and may be viewed using the following link. https://client.tribucast.com/tcid/1757456735
This link will be active for 90 days following the service.