Mary Lee Nelson

Mary Lee Nelson

July 20, 1948 – February 5, 2024

A Private Graveside service will be held for family on Monday.  A Celebration of Life will be held for all friends and family at Heafey-Hoffmann-Dworak-Cutler Mortuaries at 7805 West Center Road, Omaha, NE , from 4:30-6:30 p.m., Monday, February 12, 2024.

Mary Lee passed away peacefully Monday, February 5th surrounded by Rick and her children.

Mary Lee is survived by her husband, Rick Koziol; daughter, Kristi Benning, and children, Adam (Miranda), Alyssa and Hunter; son, Scott Nelson (Heather) and children, Dan (Paula), Kate, Libby, and Abby; son, Todd Nelson and children, Meghan (Matt) and Madison; great-grandchildren, Naudia, Ivy Jo, and Isaiah.

Mary Lee was born on July 20, 1948, to William C. Heintzelman and Joann Steinbrecker.  Her early years were spent in Lincoln, NE. The family moved to Ohio for a few years and then moved to Omaha for her junior and senior years of high school. Mary Lee graduated high school from Westside in 1966.

Mary Lee went to UNL and was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.  She was also very proud of the fact that she was the “Dodge Girl” in several Dodge Car commercials.  In 1968, Mary started her family with Kristi, and in 1970, she had Scott and Todd. 

In 1974, Mary Lee married Craig Nelson and she focused on raising her children, and worked several part time jobs over the years.  Later, Mary Lee went back to school to earn her associate degree in Surgical Technology and started her career at 40 years old at Methodist Hospital in Omaha, NE.  She worked at Methodist for nearly 30 years and loved her career in the OR, primarily as an orthopedic scrub tech. Mary Lee retired from Methodist at the age of 70.

Mary Lee met Rick Koziol in 1990 at Clancy’s Pub and they became good friends.  Eventually their relationship blossomed into a life-long love.  They married at their favorite restaurant, Gorat’s, in 2017, and spent her remaining days together.

Mary was always known for her passion for family and friends.  Mary had an engaging personality, fun sense of humor, and made friends easily.  She made so many life-long friends at Clancy’s and Methodist Hospital.  Mary was known for her love of all critters, especially her dogs.  After all, her email was threedogmary@…  Over the years, Mary spoiled many dogs including Maggie, Daisy, Betsy Ross, Emma, Rosie, Darby, Tootsie and Tillie.  Mary had a huge heart for all animals, and often kept dogs for many of her friends, which were all treated as part of the family.  Mary was a wonderful host, cook and loved big holiday and family gatherings, where she would pull out all the stops to make everything just beautiful, from her gift wrapping to her table settings. 

Mary loved the card game, Hearts, where she was very mean, sneaky and competitive. She loved bridge and board games.  Mary Lee loved having a beautiful home and garden.

Mary Lee will always be remembered as a great Wife, Mother, Grandmother and Friend.

In lieu of flowers, kindly direct memorials to Hearts United For Animals Dog Shelter in Auburn, NE, where she and Rick rescued their precious Darby. Hearts United for Animals | No-Kill Shelter & Sanctuary ( or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Donate now to St. Jude and help kids fighting cancer – St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (


  • Toni Schroeder Posted February 6, 2024 6:54 pm

    Dear Rick, I’m so very sorry for your loss. May God bless you and grant her eternal rest.

  • Tim McKain Posted February 6, 2024 7:18 pm

    Remembering the good times, family get togethers, several good laughs. My condolences to her family.

  • Shelley Julin Posted February 6, 2024 7:27 pm

    Mary was a beautiful soul. She was one of the first people I got to know at Methodist and I always enjoyed having her on our cases. She will be missed by many ❤️

  • Kelly Muma Posted February 6, 2024 7:29 pm

    I’m sorry for your loss and our thoughts are with you at this difficult time

  • Audrey Van Ackeren Posted February 7, 2024 11:57 am

    Rick and family,
    I am sorry for the sadness that fills your hearts right now. Mary shared her life with so many and always was welcoming. Those happy times is what you keep alive. Sharing those stories will in time will turn your tears into smiles. Remember the times you shared. Thinking of you and praying for peace for all who will miss her.

  • Rob Lester Posted February 7, 2024 1:09 pm

    Mary was a second mom for me growing up. I will always remember her kindness, her cooking and that beautiful smile.

  • Gina Selman Posted February 7, 2024 5:17 pm

    I will always treasure my friendship with Mary. I am so very sorry to her family for their loss. She was a one of a kind friend and was one of the best scrub tech I had the pleasure of working with. Rest easy Mary, and I hope you got knocked down and kissed by all of your pets when you got to your final resting place. I couldn’t think of a better way to be welcomed home. You will be so missed. !

  • Lorraine Boyd Posted February 8, 2024 9:10 am

    Oh Rick, my heart dropped when I saw this. I just thought of her yesterday, wondering why we had let time elapse since we last saw each other. One of my favorite people, Mary was so kind, and funny and supportive. And her love of dogs sweetened the pot. Thom and I loved her so much. I’ll miss her the rest of my life. Sending tons of prayers for you to find peace in your wonderful memories of your beautiful wife!!

  • Alex & Larrileen Volterri Posted February 8, 2024 10:02 am

    I will always cherish the memories of times spent with Mary Lee and family. Over the years we lost touch, but good memories remain. Our sincere condolences to her family. May she rest in peace.

  • Kevin Moran Posted February 8, 2024 5:38 pm

    Mary was one of those rare people. that became a friend the first time you met her. She will be missed but never forgotten.

  • Shannon Dolce-Winch Posted February 9, 2024 12:08 pm

    Thinking of Kristi, Scott and Todd and all of the grands during this time. Mary was always full of laughter and shot straight with us all in our early years and didn’t suffer fools at all! Holding you all in my heart and our prayers and know that Mary is resting easy with Jesus.

  • Billie Jo Posted February 9, 2024 7:29 pm

    Mary was absolutely gorgeous with the prettiest eyes and she had a way of making people feel comfortable around her. I loved her PB frosting over her homemade cake, Mary will forever be loved n missed ❤️

  • Martha & Todd Posted February 10, 2024 6:29 pm

    Mary was one of my very dear friends. We had so many wonderful times together. Christmas bread making will never be the same again.

  • Martha Trautman Posted February 10, 2024 6:40 pm

    Mary was one of my very dear friends. We had so many wonderful memories together. Christmas bread making will never be the same.

  • Allen Hager Posted February 11, 2024 8:20 am

    Mary is oneof those special people we sometimes have the great fortune to have come into our lives. She has been an important part of our family for many years and we love her. We will miis her so. Deepest condolences to the entire family.

  • Lisa Yager Posted February 11, 2024 4:37 pm

    I was extremely saddened to hear of Mary’s passing. What a wonderful, fun and caring woman she was! She was like a second mama to my fur baby Candy and my fur baby Bunny adored her and depended on her to keep her safe from the little toe biter! I always loved how much she loved Christmas. What a beautiful decorator and baker she was! But I think she loved the holidays more than anything because it meant family time- her favorite thing in the world. The world is little less bright without her in it. She’ll be so sorely missed by so many,, including me. My heart goes out to you, Rick and the rest of Mary’s crew.

  • Lisa Caveye Posted February 12, 2024 9:56 am

    LIfe is short, while reading about Mary’s life long friends, she was a great person to know and love.
    So grateful to have called her and Rick as friends. Still can see her and Rick getting married at Gorats.

  • Mary A Moran Posted February 12, 2024 11:48 am

    I will always think how good and kind Mary and Rick were to my brother and me when Kathleen , our sister struggled with illness. Mary and Rick took Kevin’s Danny and Willie on the spur of the moment when I needed him in Arizona after Kathleen’s heart attack . No charge for pups ‘s care was just one of many generous and thoughtful ways Rick and Mary cared. We will always love them. Prayers and sympathy from another of your many true friends.

  • Lisa Caveye Posted February 12, 2024 3:42 pm

    Mary always looked great, didn’t know she was so young.
    She was a class act!

  • Nicole Sychak Posted February 13, 2024 4:18 pm

    Mary will be missed. I met her while working at Clancy’s and instantly loved her infectious laugh and smile! I used to run into her from time to time while walking from Children’s to Methodist and we would always stop to visit. I am so sorry I missed her service!! I am thinking of all of you during this difficult time!!

  • Joseph William Heintzelman Posted February 20, 2024 11:32 pm

    I am so very sorry Rick. My heart goes out to you, and the family. I just now found out about the service. Please forgive me. I loved Mary Lee so very very much. I will miss my first Cousin who shared the same Birthday with me, until I see her again. Love -joe

  • Joseph William Heintzelman Posted February 20, 2024 11:38 pm

    I am so very sorry Rick. My heart goes out to you, and the family. I loved Mary Lee so very very much. I just now found out about the service…you have my apologies. I will miss my first cousin, whom I shared the same Birthday, until I see her once again. My thoughts are with you. -joe

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