Local College Student's Favorite Neighbor, Jean Nell Dies at 96

Local College Student's Favorite Neighbor, Jean Nell Dies at 96 title=
Jean Nell (center) with Beach City residents during her birthday party in 2018 [Photo: Beach City]
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By edhat staff

Jean Nell, the longtime resident of a local college student apartment complex, passed away just before her 97th birthday.

Nell resided in the Beach City Apartment complex. She was one of the last original residents from the Harbor Heights Manor Apartments located in the 800 block of Cliff Drive next to Santa Barbara City College (SBCC).

The complex was purchased in 2014 by Ed St. George who renovated the building as unofficial dorm-style housing for nearby community college students. The complex houses nearly 500 students in seven buildings, a total of 97 units that are fully furnished. A full staff lives on-site, including two resident assistants assigned to each building. 

When offered an apartment on the first floor, Nell refused and was unwilling to give up the view from her balcony, where she would often sit and watch the sunset, according to The Channels.

She lived on Oceano before moving to Harbor Heights Manor and has greatly enjoyed being a surrogate grandmother to her young neighbors. She often baked treats for the students who helped her with shopping and laundry.

Several years ago Beach City residents started throwing annual parties for Nell on her birthday, Valentine's Day. For her birthday party last year, hundreds of tenants, friends, and Congressman Salud Carbajal came together to celebrate her life with food and music.

Nell was originally from Chicago and moved to Santa Barbara with her husband 38 years ago. She worked as a secretary and her husband owned a music store. In her free time, she would volunteer at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital visiting patients and at the Granada Theatre. Every Sunday she would participate in mass at Holy Cross Church on Cliff Drive and had an interest in gardening, her favorite flowers were roses and orchids. 

She passed away on February 8 from naural causes.

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