Jean Nielsen Thomas-Albertini

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(1932 – 2019) Jean Margaret Nielsen Thomas-Albertini, age 87, passed away peacefully on March 1, 2019. Jean Margaret was born to parents of Danish lineage Niels Nielsen and Margaret Christensen in Neola, Iowa, August 12, 1932, the second of 4 children. The Nielsens settled on the 80-acre family farm in the house Niels built in the shade of maple, spruce and walnut trees. During the 1934 winter, 2 and a half  year-old Jean was accidentally burned by scalding water heated by the coal stove, and after 4 months of stationary recovery, learned to walk for the second time. It may have been this early challenge that shaped her resilience as she developed into adulthood. Jean and her siblings grew up roaming freely within the rural environment of planting, harvesting, farm animals and chores. The social events of the Nielsens were family oriented and centered on the local church, St. Paul’s Lutheran, spirited by aunts, uncles and cousins. St. Paul’s Lutheran was both a center for worship and a gathering place for Danish immigrants who shared the language and customs of their forefathers. After graduating as valedictorian from Underwood Consolidated School, Jean attended Dana College in Blair, Nebraska, near Omaha, Nebraska, overlooking a portion of the Missouri River Valley. The college was founded in 1884 by Danish pioneers, and the name “Dana” is the poetic variant of “Denmark.” In 1951, Jean and beau Delmas Thomas were married; and as Del was soon stationed at Camp Roberts in Central California in service of the Korean War, the young couple eventually moved to Sacramento, California, next door to Jean’s Aunt Elna. The property in the central valley’s breadbasket, shaded by walnut and pecan trees, was reminiscent of the Iowa homestead, and Jean’s life was full raising 3 children, sewing and making cobblers, pies and jams with fruit picked from the two properties. Church was the center of family life, and at Good Shepherd Lutheran, Jean taught Sunday school to her favorite group, the pre-school aged children. After dissolution of her first marriage and time on her own, Jean met and married Herman “Al” Albertini and moved to Old Station, California, living in a modified A-frame on the edge of Lassen State Park’s property line, where the couple enjoyed fishing trips and the beauty of nature. When property maintenance became too demanding for the retired couple, Jean and Al relocated to Gardnerville, Nevada, the picturesque valley within high desert that Al remembered fondly during his previous travels. Jean’s life was again enriched by the fellowship of the local church, Trinity Lutheran. Jean loved to laugh, lived life on her own terms, moved with resilience through the reinventions of adulthood and placed a high value on her many and enduring friendships. Jean is survived by Thomas descendants, Brian (Susan), Bonnie (Douglas), Brent (Cynthia); grandchildren Bethany, Kyle (Monica); and great-grandchildren Anne-Marie, Therese and Natalie. Jean will be buried near her parents, siblings and extended family in St. Paul’s Cemetery. A memorial service will be held Saturday, May 4, 2019, at 2 p.m., at St. Paul’s Lutheran, Boomer-Neola, Iowa. In lieu of flowers, please consider contributions to your local hospice in the name of Jean Albertini.


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