Nellie Iva May

Nellie Iva May, 100, of Bemidji, MN passed away on Wednesday, August 19, 2020 at Neilson Place in Bemidji. 7 Days short of her 101st Birthday.A private memorial service will be held at the Cease Family Funeral Home in Bemidji, MN. Interment will be next to her husband at the Greenwood Cemetery in Bemidji, MN under the direction of the Cease Family Funeral Home in Bemidji. Nellie Cooley was born in Heron Lake, MN, on August 26, 1919. She was the 11th of 14 children in her family, born to Frederick and Pauline (Miller) Cooley. She attended Heron Lake School, graduating from high school in 1937. After graduation she moved to Minneapolis and attended Calhoun Secretarial School. While still in Minneapolis, Nellie worked for the IRS, Town Mutual Insurance, Midwest Badge and Novelty, and John W. Thomas and Co. Mom met her beloved Horace Ivan May in Minneapolis, later marrying him on March 7, 1943 by the Justice of the Peace in Robbinsdale, MN. Dad was on leave from the Navy at the time. Mom followed Dad to the University of Notre Dame for Naval Training School, and then off to Vallejo, CA, where Dad shipped out. Dad served aboard the USS The Sullivans DD537 during WWII. While Dad was in the service, Mom returned to Minneapolis to resume her secretarial career. After Dad returned from the service and completed his teaching degree from the University of Minnesota, Mom and Dad lived worked in Foley, MN. This is when their first son Thomas was born. In 1948, Mom and Dad moved to Bemidji. Dad resumed his teaching, coaching, and refereeing careers. Three more children followed; Terry, Nancy, and Carolyn. Mom’s own career included secretarial positions at the Lab School, The Newman Center, County Health Service, and Sathre Abstract. She ended her long working career as the secretary to Bun Fortier, Bemidji’s Athletic Director. Mom was a very active volunteer at the United Methodist Church in Bemidji for many years. She also volunteered at BiCap. Her hobbies included sewing, gardening, reading, crossword puzzles, yard work, and music. Thank goodness she loved animals because Mom did a tremendous amount of dog and cat sitting over the years for her children. She loved being a mother and a wife. She was also a very avid Minnesota Twins fan. Nellie May is survived by her four children: Thomas May, Terry May, Nancy (Thomas) O’Sullivan, and Carolyn May. She leaves behind a sister-in-law, numerous nieces and nephews, cousins, and many dear friends. Mom was preceded in death by her husband Horace Ivan May, her parents Frederick and Pauline (Miller) Cooley, her 6 brothers, and 7 sisters. Mom has said goodbye to so many wonderful friends, relatives, and teachers. We want to thank the nurses, aides, and staff of Trillium, Neilson Place, and Hospice for the exceptional love and care given to our Mother as of recent, and over the last years of her life. We are also grateful to her caretakers for the kindness, patience, and support shown to our family. Condolences may be left at

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