Thief River Falls - Victor “Gene” Nelson, 90, Thief River Falls, formerly of Viking, died Monday Nov. 25, 2013 at Thief River Care Center, Thief River Falls.
Funeral services will be 2 p.m. Saturday Nov. 30 at Zion Lutheran Church in Viking, with Pastor John Wollenzien officiating. Interment will follow at Landstad Cemetery of rural Thief River Falls. Visitation will be held at Johnson Funeral Service Friday night from 5-8 p.m. with a prayer service at 7 p.m.
Victor Eugene Nelson was born June 11, 1923 to Tilda and Victor Nelson in Malung. 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 seven 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, N.D. 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 on a quarter of land and were featured in a 1970s 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, and sons; David (Mary) Nelson of Carrington, North Dakota, Steve (Jeana) Nelson of Viking, Darrel (Melanie) Nelson of Argyle, and Grant (Lisa) Nelson of Thief River Falls; nine 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, three 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.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.johnsonfuneralservice.com.