Jessi Marena Nelsen was one of those people who can be enthusiastic and effusive without being overwhelming. She was, by all accounts, a genuinely nice person. And that’s not to be taken lightly; she was nice in the sense that she cared about what people were doing and saying.
We knew Jessi mostly as a writer, and she contributed just over a dozen pieces to the Press. She was eager to take on projects and improve her skills, and took any criticism with grace. She had a knack for interviewing people and teasing out the things that made them unique and interesting. Her subjects were often artists and musicians on the fringes of the Anchorage culture scene. You could count on seeing her smiling face behind those signature red, large-framed glasses at just about any show in town, and you knew if she was there she legitimately liked the band or artist performing. She wasn’t just a consumer of the arts, either, but worked to cultivate them—by showing up, writing about it, getting bands to her hometown of Seward and working overtime on the Seward Music and Arts Festival. She was a rising talent who recognized and celebrated the talent of others.
We could go on about how warm Jessi’s personality was and how eager and earnest she was as a writer, but the truth is that if you knew Jessi—you already know these things.
We are so saddened by the loss of Jessi. Alaska through her eyes was a vibrant and truly amazing place and the Press as well as the world is a less interesting place for losing her.
Our condolences go out to her family and many friends, her community in Seward and her colleagues at the Spenard Roadhouse.
Jessi Nelsen and her boyfriend Robert Lilly were killed when Lilly’s plane crashed at Merrill Field Saturday afternoon. Coverage of the incident is available on most major news outlets in the Anchorage area. Here is an article about Nelsen and Lilly and the fatal crash.