Catherine D. Nelson, a retired educator who also had been a museum docent, antiques lecturer and an appraiser, died of complications of a stroke Dec. 17 at Roland Park Place. The former Ruxton resident was 82.
Catherine Diane Nelson, daughter of Stephen Nelson, a contractor, and his wife, Pearl Nelson, a homemaker, was born in Staten Island, New York, and raised on Long Island, New York, where she graduated in 1956 from West Hempstead High School.
She earned a bachelor’s degree in literature in 1960 from Bethany College, in Bethany, West Virginia, and a master’s degree in reading in 1977 from the Johns Hopkins University. She also had taken graduate level courses in French at C.W. Post College, the Johns Hopkins University and Goucher College.
She also studied at Middlebury College, in Middlebury, Vermont. She studied internationally at the Sorbonne in Paris, as well as the Inchbald School of Design, the Victoria and Albert Museum and at Christie’s, all of which are in London.
Ms. Nelson began her teaching career in 1961 when she taught English and French at Clover Park Senior High School in Tacoma, Washington, and from 1962 to 1963, was on the faculty of Smithtown Central High School in Smithtown, Long Island, New York, where she was a French teacher.
In 1960, she married Sandor Bela “Sandy” Csobaji, an architect, and moved to Baltimore in 1964 and later settled in Ruxton. Their marriage eventually ended in divorce but they remained “close companions,” said a daughter, Margaret Smith, of Ruxton.
After her divorce, Ms. Nelson assumed her maiden name, family members said.
From 1975 to 1977, she taught French at the Ruxton Elementary School, and from 1977 to 1978, was a reading specialist with the Maryland branch of the Orton Society, where she worked with students who had been diagnosed with learning disabilities.
Ms. Nelson was a reading specialist in the Friends School of Baltimore’s remedial after school program from 1979 to 1980. She taught French at the Grace & St. Peter’s Episcopal School in Mount Vernon from 1981 to 1984, when she joined the faculty of the Park School. She taught French there for two years.
During the late 1970s and 1980s, she was a private tutor in reading at Boys’ Latin School, Friends School and the Park School, and also tutored students in her home.
From 1995 to 1996, she taught evening classes in furniture and decorative arts at Roland Park Country School’s Odyssey Program. She gave gallery talks on American furniture at the Baltimore Museum of Art, where she also lectured on silver and ceramics in the museum’s American Wing.
She retired in the late 1990s.
Thomas H. Goldstein, of Seattle, had been tutored by Ms. Nelson.
“I was a somewhat bright kid who struggled with aspects of traditional classroom instruction and the fundamentals of reading and writing,” Mr. Goldstein wrote in an email. “In my early teens, I was dropped off twice a week at an iconic ‘case-study’ cool home for tutoring and instruction. A house my future self would admire.”
He added: “I remember sessions with Ms. Nelson, who was then Mrs. Csobaji, as full of light and possibility. She had an uncanny way of seeing around corners in terms of learning and what worked with squirmy students. Catherine showered you with the most precious commodities: her complete, undivided, and non-judgmental attention. I don’t fully recall what those struggles were like for me, but when I count my blessings in terms of teachers and my modest success, I count Catherine Nelson twice.”
She had been a docent at the Walters Art Museum, the Hackerman House and the Baltimore Museum of Art. She also led tours to France and Italy for aspiring art historians.
In 1993, she taught a class on Classical Taste in America at the BMA and was also a lecturer at the Three Arts Club in Homeland. From 1991 to 1994, she was an assistant to William T. Fehsenfeld, a fine arts appraiser. During that same time period, she was a lecturer and led preshow tours at the Hunt Valley Antiques Show.
Ms. Nelson was a world traveler.
She was a member of the First English Church. Plans for a memorial service at the Guilford church are incomplete because of the pandemic.
In addition to her daughter, Ms. Smith, she is survived by a son, Stephen Csobaji of Austin, Texas; two other daughters, Georgette Csobaji of Hampden and Jenny Klock of Jackson Hole, Wyoming; a sister, Caroline Faccou of Placentia, California; and three grandchildren.