Helen Nelson of River Falls, Wisconsin passed on to eternal life surrounded by her family on January 23, 2016 at the age of 97. She was a farmer, gardener, champion golfer, homemaker, friend to many and loving matron of the Nelson family. Helen lived a life of happiness, joy and fulfillment.
Born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1918, Helen was the daughter of Jessie and John Anderson, a professional golfer who mentored golfers and developed golf courses across the country. Her parents emigrated from St. Andrews, Scotland where the Anderson family had a long history of professional golfers and golf club makers.
Helen’s family ultimately settled in Duluth, Minnesota. At age 16 she left high school to care for her mother Jessie during her long illness. Following her mother’s passing, Helen found work at a Duluth sandwich and tea shop and returned to school and obtained her diploma from Duluth Central High School. It was in Duluth that Helen met and married the love of her life, Earl Nelson, a grocery store owner. Together they built a wonderful life and family.
In 1952 Helen and Earl bought a dairy farm in beautiful Mann Valley near River Falls where Helen would live for 56 years. Helen helped farm the land, care for the cows and chickens, tend to the dogs and cats, and plant bountiful vegetable gardens. With fresh farm foods Helen cooked luscious meals and baked the best breads and cookies for the enjoyment of her farm family. Helen’s green thumb with vegetable gardens evolved to a love of perennial flowers which she nurtured to lovely gardens on the farm.
“Mom’s gardens were legendary but she always believed the most beautiful garden she created was her family,” said her daughter Bev Palmquist.
Helen added to her family’s golf legacy when she joined the River Falls Golf Club. Over several years she loved golfing with her many friends. She won the Women’s Club Championship four times and set a course record for women. “We were so proud of her and loved having her tell us over supper how she won her championship matches,” said her son Doug Nelson.
In 1979 Helen and Earl made a dream come true when they built their beloved Somar Stuga, a charming lake cabin near Hayward in Wisconsin’s northwoods. When opening the cabin each summer Helen insisted that the first task was potting geraniums to place on the deck. “She loved sinking her hands in the soil to make sure those plants would thrive all summer long. Her happiest times were with her family at the cabin,” said her son Dwight Nelson.
At age 90, Helen moved to Wellhaven Senior Living in River Falls where she enjoyed wonderful support and shared many happy times with her friends.
Helen was preceded in death by her husband and best friend Earl Nelson, infant daughter Darlene Nelson, her parents John and Jessie Anderson, her brothers Douglas, Allister and Lloyd Anderson, and her son-in-law Steve Palmquist. She is survived and sorely missed by her children Bev Palmquist, Doug Nelson and Dwight Nelson (Mary Jo); her grandchildren Kristin Palmquist (Tom Giles), Michael Palmquist (Maia Aarsheim), Jonathon Nelson (Sara Paciotti) and Sarah Nelson; her great grandchildren Gus, Else, Mina, Mette, Jake and Henry; and many nieces, nephews and loyal friends.
A memorial service for Helen will be held at the Ezekiel Lutheran Church in River Falls on Saturday, January 30th with visitation at 10 am and a memorial service at 11 am. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made in Helen’s memory to Wellhaven Senior Living in River Falls that provided outstanding loving care to Helen in her final years or to the St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity that provides vital housing services for families in need in River Falls. Arrangements are with Bakken-Young Funeral & Cremation Services of River Falls