The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By LOG Staff 

Seward woman dies in plane crash


Seward High School

Jessi Marena Nelsen from the 2004 Seward High School Yearbook.

Jessi Marena Nelsen, 27, died Saturday when a small plane piloted by her close friend Robert Lilly, 31, stalled and crashed on the runway at Merrill Field in Anchorage. The Cessna 150, owned by Lilly, plunged into the ground when, according to witnesses, its engine cut off.

Apparently, Lilly was approaching the runway for a landing when the control tower advised him to make another pass because of other plane traffic. Lilly had just received his commercial pilot’s license and was due to start at a recently landed flying job in Kodiak.

Nelsen was a 2004 graduate of Seward High School and worked frequently throughout the community. For many years, she was responsible for arranging performing artists for the annual Seward Music and Arts Festival. This year’s lineup for the Sept. 27-29 festival is an example of her work putting together a diverse and compelling array of talent.

In addition to being the long-time music director for SMAF, Nelsen also labored as a longshoreman and wrote a Seward entertainment column. She was enrolled in journalism at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

In the 2004 SHS Yearbook, Nelsen is pictured working on her guitar chops with the caption “Rock N’ Roll” lifestyle. In Lilly, she met a bandmate, when he appeared as the drummer in one of her scheduled musical acts at the 2011 SMAF. They had been an item ever since. The 2013 SMAF will be dedicated to her memory.


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