Barb loved people, parties, and pageants – the latter so much that when she turned 60, friends paraded her down Park Avenue on the back of a convertible festooned in a tiara and sash proclaiming her “Miss Winter Park.” She could recount the family history of everyone she knew there and their milestones – from birthdays, weddings, and babies she celebrated to illnesses and losses she soothed with a sympathetic ear and a home-cooked meal.
Barbara Prost Nelson was born in Detroit, Michigan on July 28, 1932. After receiving a degree in music from Stephens College, she moved to Ft. Lauderdale to work at a local TV station. Friends fixed her up with the love of her life Tom Nelson, and she moved to Winter Park after they married in 1960. She quickly became immersed in the community as a member of the Junior League of Greater Orlando, the Winter Park Racquet Club, the Rosalind Club and Interlachen Country Club. She is a former President of PEO Int’l, an education philanthropy, and was on the Board of the Winter Park Library and the Winter Park Day Nursery. She belonged to several bridge clubs, and once faced down a bomb scare lockdown in an NYC hotel by playing cards with her bridge buddies.
She was quick with a quip and to whip up some hot hors d’oeuvres. A marvelous hostess, she made entertaining look easy even though she prepared all the food herself. She loved weddings and was responsible for several, thanks to her matchmaking skills. Friends say “She always had a smile on her face, a joke to tell, and a kind word” and “Wherever Barbara was, the fun and laughter was.” Her razor sharp wit and “Barbara-isms” are oft-quoted, but sadly can’t be shared in a family newspaper.
She loved going out, remaining active until earlier this year when her body started to slow down. Frequent visits and calls from friends and family were a great comfort in her final months. Barbara passed away on Saturday night, May 21st surrounded by her children. She hated having a quiet Saturday night, so it seems fitting that she left this world in the midst of a severe thunderstorm. Friends toasting her that night noted that she went out with a bang!
Barbara was preceded in death by her husband, Thomas C. Nelson who passed away in 2013. She is survived by her children Bruce (Cindy) Nelson, Jimmy (Beth Danley) Nelson, and Katie (Drew Conrad) Nelson Thomson, her grandchildren Paisley Richard, Jamie Nelson and Madison Thomson, her great-grandchildren and her brother John (Lucy) Prost.
A memorial will be held on Tuesday, May 31st at 5pm at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, 526 North Park Avenue, Winter Park, FL 32789 with a reception in the Parish Hall afterwards.