My dad’s obituary

I took this week off as my dad passed away earlier this week. Here is his obituary.


Victor Eugene Nelson, 90, of Thief River Falls, MN died November 25th
at Thief River Care Center. Funeral services will be 2 PM, Saturday
November 30th at Zion Lutheran Church in Viking, MN with Pastor John Wollenzien officiating.


Burial will follow at Landstad Cemetery of rural Thief River Falls.
Visitation will be held at Johnson Funeral Service Friday night from
5-8 PM with a prayer service at 7 PM.

Victor Eugene Nelson was born June 11th, 1923 to Tilda and Victor
Nelson in Malung, MN. The younger Victor was always referred to as Gene to
avoid confusion and that is how he will be referred to in this
memorial. Gene graduated from Lincoln High School in 1943 and farmed
all of his life. Gene met Alice Fern Zavoral at a youth dance in
the auditorium in Thief River Falls; they married on June 16, 1951.
They first rented a farm near Thief River Falls then later purchased
their farm near Viking in 1953. They later moved into Thief River Falls.

Gene was a member of Zion Lutheran Church in Viking. He was
relentless in his pursuit of any task and left no work unfinished or burdened anyone, even to his death. As a young man, Gene would walk 7 miles one way, then hitch his
horses and haul shocks of oats all day. After a days work, he would tend his horses then make the return trip again on foot. Young Gene also worked in the potato fields near
Grafton and would sleep in a barn in between shifts. He unloaded coal cars in town with
a shovel for extra money. Veterinarian Frank Hazard once told one of
Gene’s sons that he had never met a man who worked as hard as Gene.
Gene and wife Alice raised a family of five on 36 dairy cows and a
quarter of land and were featured in a 1970’s Thief River Falls
Times’ article for just that feat. Gene continued to milk cows well
into his seventies and was hauling hay just this summer before he
went to live at the Care Center. Gene left many awards from the Dairy
Herd Improvement Association behind and was proud to be a former
member of the Viking Township board, Zion Lutheran Church board and
Red Lake Electric Operation Round-up board.

We’d like to tell you about our dad, Gene Nelson. Dad worked so hard
to make sure we could attend the same activities as the town kids. He
would make sure to give us little heart boxes of candy at various holidays when we were
little. He expected really nothing from the world but a chance to
work and live his life which was all he required to be a happy man.
He taught us how when times get tough you have to “grit your teeth”
to bear your load and carry it to completion. Dad also had a great,
self-deprecating humor, like when he told of a sprained ankle he
earned by “sawing himself off a tree.” Dad could be tough as the times which
formed him but he also made sure every stray cat got
warm milk and dry food, even if he had to carry it to them upstairs
in the barn. Dad took his responsibilities as definition for his life, he lived simple and accepted each battle in life as though it was his due.

Gene Nelson is survived by daughter Deborah (Mike) Waterworth of
Thief River Falls, MN and sons; David (Mary) Nelson of Carrington,
North Dakota, Steve (Jeana) Nelson of Viking, MN, Darrel (Melanie)
Nelson of Argyle, MN and Grant (Lisa) Nelson of Thief River Falls, MN
9 grandchildren: Reed Waterworth, Ryan (Jessica) Nelson, Erin (Jeff)
Kummer , Sara (Dean) Pennington, Jamie (Amber Efta) Nelson, Andy (Bridget)
Anderson, Lynel (Brad) Svir, Danielle (Tony) Kuznia and Derik (Nan)
Nelson. 14 great-grandchildren; Cade Kuznia, Hale Gene Kuznia, Neve
Kuznia, Roan Kuznia, Peyton Nelson, Tyler Nelson, Casey Nelson, Clay
Nelson, Noah Kummer (who shares a birthday with Gene,) Madison Svir,
Nick Svir, Tevin Douglas, Aaron Douglas, and Justin Anderson, 3
sisters: Betty Olson, Phyllis (Wilbert) McGregor, Marian Finstad, a
brother in law, Orville Janzen and sister in-law Wilma Olson.

Gene was preceded in death by his wife of 59 years, Alice, whom he can now go dance with again in whatever auditorium is offered in Heaven, probably to a Schottishe. He was also preceded in death by son Douglas Nelson, great-grandson Grady Nelson, his parents, sisters June Scholin and Kathleen Flaten , brother John Nelson, sister in-law Gladys Jansen and brothers in-law Gordon Olson, Donald Olson, Vernon Scholin, Kermit Finstad and Gilmore Flaten.

Johnson Funeral Home is in charge of services. Please visit their website for any other information at


6 thoughts on “My dad’s obituary

  1. Your Dad sounds like a wonderful man. The picture of the barn reminds me so much of my Grandpa’s farm in northern Minnesota. So sorry for your loss.


  2. Grant, sorry for your loss . What a wonderful obit, I learned things about your Dad that I had never known, even living only a few miles apart in Viking.


  3. I remember Gene well from my dairy farming days and participation in the Dairy Herd Improvement Association (DHIA). Therefore, I would like to extend my sympathies to you and your family. Like my dad, Gene taught us the value of hard work and the love of farming.


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