Mary Jane Tickler Nelson, 85, passed to live eternity with her Lord, as well as several family members and friends, on October 16, 2022. She was born the second daughter to Carl and Lucille on January 14, 1937, in Green Bay, WI, where some of her earliest memories include swimming at a family cottage on Green Bay, hiding under their apartment dining table during WWII air raid drills, men throwing their hats and ties into a bonfire in the middle of town at the end of WWII, and her sister bringing home the Mills Brothers for lunch as segregation disallowed their staying in Green Bay. Growing up in Seymour, she spent her childhood helping at her father’s Ben Franklin Store, was active in 4-H (at age 12 she knew she wanted to be a Home Agent), Girl Scouts, school band, choir, and drama, FHA, Civil Air Patrol, and helping raise her little brother, Tom. These hometown memories were important to Mary, as she attended the Class of ’55 Reunion often, and continued communication with her best friend, Nancie Marnocha.
Attending college at Stout State University in Menomonie, Mary pledged to the Alpha Phi fraternity where she made lifelong friends like Bo, Rita, and Barb, and was a member of the Ski Patrol at Deepwood Ski Area. Upon graduating college in 1959 with an Education degree in Home Economics, she purchased her first car, a powder blue 1959 Chevrolet Impala, and took her first job as the Polk County Home Economist. In 1960, she married local farmer, Phillip Nelson, and in rural Balsam Lake on Nelwood Farm, they raised three children.
Mary was an avid gardener, raising many vegetables that she sold fresh from “Grandma’s Garden” to local and lake residents, as well as preserving food for her family. She was often accompanied over the years, by a black Pug- Confucius, Kirby, or Louie. The family attended church at Milltown Lutheran, where Mary, having become a Lutheran upon marriage, devoted much of her life teaching others about God’s goodness, being active in the Women of the Church at the local and regional level, as well as a representative of the American Bible Society, traveling nationally. She also became a lay minister, able to assist with services and give sermons, combining two of her favorite skills: being very literate and sharing God’s Word. Other highly valued volunteer opportunities were the Festival Theatre in St. Croix Falls, Northern Waters Literacy where she helped local Brazilian farm workers further their English skills, instructor for AARP Smart Driving for Senior Citizens, and as a local election worker. One of Mary’s most fulfilling positions was teaching. As a teacher, she loved being part of the progress she helped her students make, encouraging them to believe in themselves and their future, teaching High School Equivalency through WITC, and substituting at local schools. Enjoying learning about others gave her energy, as she wanted to encourage others to feel that they mattered and that they could be successful. Over the last decade, she has made 275 prayer shawls for friends, and for distribution through her church.
Mary is preceded in death by her parents, sister Carole Anderson, brother Tom, her former husband Phillip, and many extended family and friends. She is survived by her children, Sarah (Dan) Campbell, their children Marcus Campbell (Taylor Lafferty), Kierstyn (Ryan) Timmers; Craig Nelson, his children Stephanie (Brandon) Whittaker, Emilie (Lake) Boehm, Meredith Nelson; and Christopher (Kelly) Nelson, their children Kendra (Michael) Carlson, Lucas (Jalana) Nelson, Olivia (Chase) Schrupp, Carly Nelson; great-grandchildren Vivian, Grair, and Cooper Carlson, Clayton and Callie Whittaker, and Knox Nelson, as well as extended family and friends.
Mary’s family is grateful for the kind-hearted and professional care of Adoray Hospice caregivers, as well as Eagle Ridge Senior Living. Many thanks to Kolstad Funeral home for arrangements.
A celebration of life service and fellowship will be Saturday, November 12, at 11:00 a.m. at JOY Lutheran, Centuria, with a private burial. Visitation will be from 9:00 A.M. until the time of service at the church. If you desire, please send condolences to Sarah Campbell, 763 Hilltop Ln., St. Croix Falls 54024. Financial gifts can be directed to JOY Lutheran Church and Adoray Hospice Care.
The Kolstad Family Funeral Home of Centuria has been entrusted with arrangements.