Former DeKalb resident leaves bequest to NIU computer labs

By Ray McDermott

The NIU computer science department has received a bequest from a former DeKalb resident who died on Dec. 2, 1991.

Evelyn Nelson’s $75,000 donation will be used by the department to renovate existing computing labs and establish a fund for continued purchases and improvements.

When Nelson died at age 84 she specifically requested that a portion of her estate be used to support and maintain a computer lab at NIU. She also named the DeKalb Education Foundation as a beneficiary.

“We’re very flattered that she thought of us and are grateful for her generous bequest,” said Rodney Angotti, chair of the computer science department. “We certainly will be able to use the money as she wished.”

Angotti said the funds will be put into a trust fund and used to maintain the computer science labs in the Psychology/Math Building, Graham Hall and Stevens Hall.

Nelson attended DeKalb public schools and the University of Illinois, joining the Works Progress Administration in the mid- 1930s.

She also worked for many years in public relations for the Illinois Symphony. She served a brief tenure with the National Youth Administration. During World War II, she served as a publicist for the USO.

Nelson later became the public relations director at the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago where she served celebrities including former Presidents Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy. She also worked with the Chicago Public Library.