Elaine Nelson

Obituary of Elaine A Nelson

May 18, 1930- October 30, 2020


Born to Myrtle Christina (Swenson) Peterson and Oscar Ambrose Peterson in Taylor Falls/Chisago County, MN. As she was fond of re-telling, Elaine weighed in at 4 pounds, was incubated in a shoebox on a radiator and survived a burn on her foot. Elaine grew up on a farm in Lindstrom, MN with her grandma, parents, the little sister she loved to tease, and hired men she remembered fondly, gathering eggs, leading the cows home, and dressing the multitude of farm-cats in doll clothes.


She was preceded in death by her father when she was only 16 years old, and her mother in 1990, her husband of 53 years Carl Willard Nelson, her beloved granddaughter, Kendra Baumgartner and in August, her 66-year-old son Greg. Elaine is survived by her daughter, Kris(tine) and son-in-law Rory Baumgartner, Marana/Douglas and son Scott and daughter-in-law Hope Nelson, Chandler. Granddaughters Erin (Randy) Mason, Newport Beach, CA, Jennifer Nelson and grandson Jeffrey (Sarah) Nelson, Phoenix. Sister Marilyn and brother-in-law Keith Mahn, Chandler and sister-in-law Karen Nelson, North Branch, MN; Great-granddaughters she considered her greatest joy, Emily Nelson and Delainey Mason and numerous cousins in AZ, CA, MN and WI.


The young Nelson family moved from White Bear Lake, MN to Tucson in 1957, where she cried every day for a year until her widowed mom, Myrtle, only sister Marilyn, and brother-in-law Keith, moved to Tucson too. They were all very involved in worship, Sunday School, women’s groups and council at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church. She sold Avon in her neighborhood, always on foot because she never learned to drive, making friends everywhere she went. In 1968, they moved south to Douglas to open Nelson‘s Glass & Mirror Co. where she was a reluctant employee, but loved chatting with her customers and being a business owner. She was the front-woman for the hard-working, “too busy to bill” business.


Elaine and Willard were both instrumental in building Emmanuel Lutheran Church, and spent a lot of time with the small but mighty church family. Lionesses of Douglas, YWCA, encouraging ERIN and Kendra in Gloria’s Dance Studio, wearing a rainbow clown costume in community parades, helping Erin’s Girl Scout Troop, and supporting Kendra’s Relay for Life efforts.


Elaine never met a stranger...in a grocery store, in line at Burger King, at an overnight hospital stay or visiting a gas station ladies room. Because of that, everyone wanted to take mom with them. She loved going. She never said no to a shopping trip, a 4-generation vacation, a cruise with a friend, trips to Florida and Minnesota to visit her sister-in-law, an enchilada dinner fundraiser, a meal with the “Lunch Bunch”, a church potluck, visiting a neighbor or the nursing home, hosting, a Creative Memories, Tupperware or Pampered Chef party.


She always had something creative going. Early on, it was creating enamel jewelry on a kiln, painting figurines, sewing clothes, painting canvases including taking lessons, painting and firing porcelain, making dolls and clowns, painting wearable art, refinishing furniture, baking brownies, and finally, creating over 100 very special scrapbooks.


Elaine fought change. So, of course, technology was not her friend, even a remote gave her fits. She collected antiques, loved to frame old family photos and reminisced about the good old days.


After Willard (Carl) died in 2002, she and Greg lived in the family home until this year. As time went on she gave in to Greg’s needs, putting aside her housekeeping fussiness. They became a team, caring for each other...until they couldn’t. She died on October 30, 56 days after Greg’s death, never really recovering. Mom, grandma. great-grandma was surrounded by a devoted family who loved her deeply. She made certain to tell them how very much she loved them before settling into a 24-hour sleep only interrupted by calling to her mother. Elaine was devoted to her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who filled her life with joy and love which she shared freely with family, friend and others. She lived a full and gracious life.


A special thanks to Pastor John and Nina Lundering for loving and caring for her always and especially in the last few weeks of her life; to Oro Valley Behavioral Health staff, especially the wonderfully kind and caring Dr. Malone; and to Casa de Luz Hospice staff for everything that was needed and everything that was wished for.


There will be a Celebration of Life at the outdoor worship space at Resurrection Lutheran Church, 11575 N 1st Ave, Tucson, AZ on Sunday, December 13, 2:00 PM. It will be mask-appropriate with room for 50-100 to socially distance. Memorials could be made to N.A.M.I., American Cancer Society or Lutheran Social Services (Douglas).

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