Willard LeRoy Nelson, 92, of Cottage Grove, Minnesota, passed away peacefully at home on February 1, 2019.
Funeral service will be Friday, February 8th at 2:00 p.m. at the Kok Funeral Home at 7676 80th Street S., Cottage Grove with visitation one hour prior to the service. Private interment will be held at Cottage Grove Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Hope Christian Academy, 920 Holley Ave., St. Paul Park, MN, 55071 or Union Gospel Mission, 435 University Ave. East, St. Paul. MN 55130.
Born to Leslie and Marion (Peterson) Nelson on November 9, 1926, in Fergus Falls, MN, Willard grew up in Ottertail County, where he attended rural school and graduated from Fergus Falls High School. Upon graduation he enlisted in the U.S. Navy; following the end of WWII he married Elaine Tjaden from Fergus Falls. He graduated from the University of Minnesota and earned his Master’s Degree from the University of North Dakota. Willard began his career in education teaching high school in Lynd MN, and in 1953 moved to New London, where he served for 34 years as Principal and Superintendent of Schools. After retirement in 1987, he and Elaine relocated to Cottage Grove, Minnesota to be near their children and extended family.
Willard was an avid reader, a self-described “history buff”, kept current with the news, loved music from an early age, sang on the Fergus Falls radio station with his father and granddad as “Dad, Leslie and Little Willard”, always had a "next trip" in the works, a strong supporter of good public schools, kind hearted but with a wickedly funny sense of humor, taught himself how to be a good speaker and was often asked to emcee banquets, graduations, reunions and the like, a man of strong faith, ORGANIZED, a great planner and record keeper, a leader who often listened more than he spoke and a role model for a family oriented and community minded leader.
All of this was our Willard, plus he loved to laugh and act and have fun. He will be remembered with much love.
Willard is survived by Elaine (Tjaden) Nelson, his wife of nearly 70 years, his brother Arnold (Joyce) Nelson of Colleyville, Texas; his five children: Karen (Doug) Kitt of San Francisco, CA, Phil (Mary King) Nelson of Woodinville, WA, Mary (Chris) Moe of St. Paul Park, MN, Amy (Randy) Krussow of Cottage Grove, MN, and Peter (Diane) Nelson of White Bear Lake, MN; eleven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Willard was preceded in death by his parents; step-father August Fenske; sister, Arlene (Nelson) Grage; brother Leland, and an infant sister.
To read Elaine Nelson's obituary and tribute wall, please "CLICK HERE"
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