November 1, 1953 ~ April 11, 2021

Born in: Indianapolis, IN
Resided in: Asheville, NC

Margaret Ann Nelson, 67, of Asheville, passed away Sunday, April 11, 2021.

Born in Indianapolis, IN, on November 1, 1953, Margaret was the first child of the late William McDaniel Nelson and the late Caroline Jane Lewis Nelson. Having passed her early years in Charleston, SC and elsewhere in the South Carolina Lowcountry, she moved with her family to the mountains of western North Carolina in 1962.

There are many who would say that from the time of her arrival in Oteen, NC, just east of Asheville, the lovely, exuberant Margaret took the place by storm. “She’s a bird!” her dad often exclaimed (usually with great fondness). Though diminutive in stature, Margaret lived in a way that generated tall tales. As a storyteller, she was much in demand among children, who knew a kindred spirit when they met one. She related to them the adventures of her make-believe friends, the magic groundhog and the painted hummingbird, and sometimes she recited for them short poems that she explained were composed by her cat. Her family and friends, as well as her teachers at Charles C. Bell Elementary and A.C. Reynolds High, had a rich supply of stories from her creative, high-spirited life that clearly supported her dad’s early observation. While Margaret often downplayed this more vibrant aspect of her nature, she had a great sense of humor and actually seemed to enjoy the recounting of her antics at family gatherings in Charleston and Montreat, NC.

Above all, Margaret’s devotion to family and friends was unwavering, and her passing leaves us stunned and grief-stricken. Her deep compassion for others, as well as her generosity with her time and limited resources, was clear to all who knew Margaret, especially to the younger generation of her family with whom she was extremely close. Without question, her calling was human service, to which she was deeply committed from her youth (never passing needy souls on the street without dropping her last coins in their cups) through her years of collegiate and graduate study at A.B. Tech, UNCA, Western Carolina, and N.C. State. Over her career as a nurse, Margaret worked long hours through difficult shifts, always with tireless devotion to her patients. From start to finish she also valued and nurtured friendships with her co-workers. Throughout her years in nursing, Margaret was especially drawn to end-of-life care, as she felt strongly that providing loving attention and comfort to individuals in their final days was among the highest of callings. Perhaps there is no finer example of her compassion than in her wonderful devotion to her own mother, for whom Margaret lovingly cared during her final illness while simultaneously guiding her family through such a difficult time. Margaret’s nursing career culminated recently in the active role she played as an organizer of the historic September 2020 North Carolina Nurses Union victory at Mission Hospital, Asheville NC.

Given her petite size, Margaret was frequently cold and was ever drawn to warm climates. She often said in jest that she might be part reptile because she felt best while basking under the sun in the dry heat of the desert. It was the Arizona desert in particular, as well as Charleston in summer and Montreat on rare hot days in July and August, that beckoned Margaret throughout her life. In these places, then, the family will later hold celebrations of the blessing of her 67 years with us.

Left to cherish Margaret’s memory are her daughter, Melissa Garland Graham (Cliff), her sister, Charlotte Lewis Nelson (Wib Gulley), and her brother, William McDaniel Nelson, Jr. (Dora); one niece, Caroline Louise Gulley; three nephews, Paul Nelson Gulley, Paul Zeigler, and John Zeigler (Andrea Wackerle); three grandchildren, Jessica Buckner (Brent), Zachary Graham, and Carson Graham; three great grandchildren, Brayden Buckner, Braxton Buckner, and Brooklyn Buckner; and one great niece, Charlie Ann Zeigler.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial donations be made to Health Care for All North Carolina,, which has established the “Maggie Nelson Courage and Justice Award.”

Groce Funeral Home Tunnel Road is assisting the family.


Funeral Home Assisting The Family:

Groce Funeral Home on Tunnel Road
856 Tunnel Rd.
Asheville, NC 28805


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  1. Margaret’s easy smile and sense of humor, her wit and deep kindness for everyone she was with, and her caring for others stay with me, despite her leaving us too soon and with great sadness. She brought joy to others, and it was a blessing for me to have spent a lot of time with her. Her memory will stay with me always.

  2. Charlotte & Mac,
    I’m so sorry to learn of Margaret’s passing. She was indeed a good, sweet, compassionate soul. Please know that my thoughts are with you and your family.

  3. Mac & family:

    Just wanted to let you know that my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. God bless!

  4. Dear Mac and family, I am so very sorry for this great loss of your dear sister. Having lost my brother very unexpectedly just a year ago, I can only imagine what grief you are bearing. May your memories of your years together bring great comfort and peace. What beautiful words you have written to honor Margaret. Prayers for you all.

  5. Dear friends and family of Ms Maggie,
    At times like this,words seem to fall way to too short to express the heart of what one means to speak in the way of honoring a very dear one who seems to have left way too soon. Maggie was a light in our world, my memories of laughing deeply and well, deep into the wee hours of morning while working along side her will accompany me throughout my days, bringing me warmth and many smiles. She was beloved by many. I see her unencumbered and free and dancing on that other side. Rest well dear one. Your memory is a blessing! 💕 Heart felt prayers to all at this very difficult time of great loss.

  6. I was a high school classmate of Margaret’s from AC Reynolds. Margaret was a bright light adding thoughtfulness and humor to the sometimes tough world of high school and beyond. My condolences to Charlotte, Melissa and others who will miss her very much.

    P.S. I donated to the “Margaret Nelson Award for Courage and Justice” by adding the purpose of the donation to the second line of my address as there was no place yet on the website to record that it was to go for this named award for those carrying on Margaret’s causes in her absence.

    My deepest sympathy,
    Joyce Pressley

  7. To Maggie’s loved ones,
    I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Maggie. I had the great pleasure to work besides Maggie at Copestone. She was an extraordinary nurse and coworker; full of compassion, integrity, and tenacity. She brought much joy and laughter to those who worked with her and comfort to her patients. She will be so very missed. Wishing you peace during this time.


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