Marie Helen Nilsen

Saturday, June 1, 1929 - Tuesday, July 21, 2020

We Will Carry Her in our Hearts Always

Photo of Marie Helen Nilsen  - 1929-2020

On Tuesday, July 21, 2020, Marie Helen Nilsen, aged 91, earned her wings after a valiant battle to overcome complications from a fall.  Through her, we know what love, resilience, perseverance and a true zest for life look like. She departed for heaven from her own room surrounded by loved ones. 

Marie was the loving mother of four children, Nanny to thirteen grandchildren and Nanna/GiGi to twenty-one great-grandchildren.  Her family was always first and foremost for her.  All the grandchildren were treated to a special dinner out with her on their 13th birthday.  The grandchildren and great-grandchildren could always expect a birthday card and a check on their special day.  She loved visiting with family, travel, animals, reading, coffee, ice cream, and campfires but especially taking and sharing her photos.  She was the family historian and captured many happy memories of wonderful times with family and friends. 

Mom was always a hard worker.  She and Dad worked side-by-side to build their first house in Annadale Staten Island, NY with reclaimed material from an old Army barracks.  A beautician by trade, as a young woman she worked in a beauty shop in Great Kills but as her family grew she started working from home cutting hair for family, friends, and neighbors.  After Dad retired from the NYPD they bought an old farmhouse in Upstate NY and renovated it together.  We had a beautiful vegetable garden there and horses, cows, and chickens.  Every summer Mom would make her special strawberry jam.  Her signature recipe for pot roast has been passed down through the generations.

In her later years she lived with her daughter, Cindy and son-in-law, Jim in Virginia Beach, VA, and then Waynesville, NC.  She enjoyed camping with them and made a 4,000 mile trip in 2018 to visit with family in Minnesota, New York, and Virginia.  She also was thrilled to have nearly forty family members attend her 90th birthday party/family reunion in 2019.  Her last camping trip was to Vogel State Park in Blairsville, Georgia for her 91st birthday where she enjoyed sitting in the sunshine by the creek. 

She was a long-standing member of the Sons of Norway Virginia Beach and found great joy in the camaraderie with all the special ladies from her Norwegian language class.  She was also a member of the American Legion Cambridge, NY chapter for over 25 years.

Marie was predeceased by her beloved husband, Arne; her brother, Henry "Hank" Steinbach; and her sister, Margaret "Timmy" Steinbach Zoller.  She is survived by her sons, Stephen (Bonnie) and Kenneth Nilsen (Jill); daughters, Christine Turner and Cynthia McDonold (Jim); and her loving dog, Ally who tucked her in every night.

She will be reunited with Arne in heaven and we know that she will be sure to bring some pictures with her to show him how their beautiful family has grown.   

Her ashes will be scattered in a private ceremony in Upstate NY on a date yet to be determined.  The family asks that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the American Cancer Society at PO Box 22478, Oklahoma City, OK 73123.

Crawford / Ray Funeral Home and Cremation Service is honored to be caring for the Nilsen family.

Condolences from family and friends

Sending all my love to your family!!! I remember coming over to the house when I was a kid and she was always so sweet! May she rest in Heaven! Love you all!
Ashleigh (Faulkner) Trask
Very sorry! Prayers are sent to the whole family!! Super nice, very funny lady!! We love you guys!
Sadie Italiano & Jay Valencia
Our deepest condolences to you and the family. Know that your Mom is in her mansion where we all are striving to get to. God watches over His children and said He would come back for us one day. We are praying that He gives you strength and understanding in the days ahead. Please let us know if there is anything you need. Love, Joe & LaTarsha
Joe & LaTarsha
Thanks for the beautiful tribute, Cindy. My mother-in-law was an example of a very strong woman who loved her family with all her heart. She is an example to us of how to age gracefully with the ability to connect with all ages. Her timeless example of love for others and a desire to live life boldly is what I will always remember.
Bonnie Nilsen