Elizabeth Severson Nimock
Elizabeth Severson Nimock
  • May 27, 1933 - March 9, 2017
  • Clayton, Missouri

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Betsy Nimock (born Elizabeth Severson) passed peacefully into life-with-God on Thursday, March 9th, 2017. After battling Alzheimer's for many years, she encountered respiratory problems and passed away within a few short hours. She was surrounded by her children and grandchildren who were there to be with her and say goodbye. There were hugs, farewells and prayers throughout the evening.

She was preceded in death by her parents, husband Knox, brothers Jack, Bill, Jim and David and beloved granddaughter, Katie Grace.

Betsy was born on May 27th, 1933, the daughter of Conrad and Elizabeth Severson. Betsy graduated from Lindenwood College with a degree in art and went on to teach art for that institution. She married John Knox Nimock and, together, they had five children. As a wife and mother, Betsy created a beautiful home and was known for putting on special birthday celebrations, telling marvelous stories to the children in her carpool and making amazing Halloween costumes. She and Knox loved to throw parties and entertain. They were very involved with the St. Louis Players Guild and they were long time members at Central Presbyterian church.

She became an entrepreneur and started a number of successful businesses in St. Louis including Quelle Quiche and Marni's in Webster Groves, a needlepoint shop and tea room that was named for her mother.

She later returned to her art. Loving collage and the work of women's hands, she used vintage quilts, old photographs and paints to create powerful images . Betsy had an amazing studio full of quilt pieces, antique lace, charcoal enhanced photos and all sorts of interesting flotsam. Nothing made her happier than to have her friends and family over to "create" in her studio.

Her signature piece, "Americana", was chosen as the poster piece for the 1989 Odense Denmark Quilt National. She was flown in as a keynote speaker for this event. The same piece was used as the signature piece for the inaugural exhibit at the newly opened New York Folk Museum and was featured on the cover of the New York City "Guide to the Arts" that week.

She also pioneered "The Flag Project," an art project that helped elementary students to define a character trait they valued and create an art piece around it. One quilt expert remarked, "She was a rock star in the quilting world!"

Betsy had an amazing faith, not just a stodgy, religious faith but a laughing, hearty faith, that welcomed people with wide open arms. Her reliance on God for all things, large and small, from parking spots to medical coverage, was well known to her friends and family! She would often joke, "They say God looks after drunks and fools. Well, I don't drink, so you know what that makes me." She had many stories of God's provision in her life, including the time she couldn't get medical insurance after her husband's death. She prayed and ended up signing up for classes at a local community college just to become eligible for student medical coverage. Oddly, one of those classes opened the way for her to sing as a part of a choral group at Carnegie Hall in New York City. This is particularly remarkable since most of her life she couldn't sing a note on key!

Betsy had many good friends and there are many who could share stories of her support when they were going through tough times. For her grandchildren, who knew her as "Besty", she had a huge colorful wall in her home dedicated to showcasing and honoring their art. She loved her family and spending summers together in Nantucket. She often said, "A penny saved is a penny earned, but time spent doing something fun with someone you love is a great investment."

Toward the end of her life, Betsy was unable to do her art any more but she still had a keen eye for the beauty in nature around her. One evening, as she and I (her daughter) went for a walk, there was a beautiful orange and gold sunset. She stopped and looked at me and said, "That's GOD!" I listened and then started to walk ahead, but she stopped me and said emphatically, "And He isn't just making this up!!!"

Later, as her words began to leave her, Betsy would collect the beautiful autumn leaves that lay on the ground. He hands would be full of them when she came home from our walks. One day, she stooped over a particularly lovely leaf and quietly said, "And this is what He does with the ones He is letting go..."

Even as Alzheimer's stripped away our mother's abilities, it revealed glints of gold that are hard to forget.

It is with great joy we envision our Betsy in God's presence, laughing with old friends, recalling good times and loving her new life in Heaven. It is with thankfulness we recall her life and the life she gave to us.