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Mary Louise “Tootie” Nielsen passed away Friday August 28th, 2020 in Tribune, Kansas at Greeley County Hospital.
Tootie Nielsen was born on January 26th, 1933 to Wiley and Esther Bowen in Florence, Colorado. Tootie grew up in Lamar, Colorado with her three siblings. She was an avid reader, and especially loved mystery novels. She was a majorette for Lamar High School and played the saxophone in the school band. After high school, Tootie went on to work as a telephone operator for Ma Bell in Lamar. While working for Ma Bell, she met her best friend Ruth Humburg Schwerdfeger.
On the first Sunday in April of 1950, Tootie, Ruth, and another friend were cruising down main street in Lamar when they noticed a car of men following them and trying to get them to pull over. That is when Tootie met her husband Wayne, and dear friend Gene who later married her best friend Ruth, and Gene’s brother Jack. Tootie and Wayne married later that year on October 14th, 1950.
Over the course of their marriage, Tootie and Wayne called several places home. They lived in Syracuse until the spring of 1951, when they moved to Las Animas, Colorado, where they lived until after harvest. They then moved to Lamar, CO where Wayne worked for Tootie’s uncle in the construction field. In December of the following year, they made the move to California.
California brought on many joys, including two baby boys. Gary was born in 1955, and Douglas was born in 1957. They eventually returned to Kansas where they welcomed their third son, Thomas, in 1962. They called Coolidge home for the next 30 years. In the 60’s, Tootie and Wayne managed a motel. In the 70’s, Wayne, his father Thomas, and Tootie’s father, Wiley Bowen built the Red Barn Café in Coolidge next to their motel. Tootie worked as a cook at the Red Barn Café where people drove in from all over just to have her famously delicious meals. She also cooked at the hospital and at the Doghouse. Her food was loved by all who were able to try it.
In 1990, Wayne and Tootie left Coolidge to manage a retirement complex and the Best Western Motel in Orem, Utah for a few years. They later moved to Las Animas, Colorado to manage Bents Fort Inn, a local hotel and restaurant. While there, they enjoyed having their grandkids visit during the summer. Tootie and Wayne returned to their beginnings in Syracuse, Kansas once again when Tootie retired in 2005.
Since retirement, Tootie enjoyed having her sons, grandkids, and great grandkids visit, playing card games, beating them in checkers, and playing long games of phase 10 and dominoes. She loved to socialize at the VIP Center and play cards with her friends. She had a passion for cooking and enjoyed making special treats for her loved ones.
Tootie’s memory will live on through her family and friends with her love of reading, the recipes she passed on, playing cards, board games, and passion for genealogy.
Tootie is survived by her sons, Gary (Judy) Nielsen of Syracuse, Kansas, Douglas (Denise) Nielsen of Pueblo, Colorado, and Thomas (Grethal) Nielsen of San Antonio, Texas; grandchildren, Jessica (Tim) Blais, Morgan Nielsen, Ashley (Ky) Scheibler, Brock Nielsen, Deric Nielsen, Marcus Nielsen, Hazel Arafol, Joshua Arafol, Erica Nielsen; and great-grandchildren, Alexis, Madeline, Kaylee, and Addison.
She was preceded in death by her husband Wayne Nielsen; parents, Wiley and Esther Bowen; siblings, Bill Bowen, Jim Bowen, Armilda Williams; and grandson, Bryan Cole Nielsen.
Memorial contributions may be made to Hamilton County Library or the Education Foundation for the Coolidge Alumni Scholarship in care of Valley Memorial Funeral Chapel, P.O. Box 950, Lamar, Colorado, 81052.
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