Cynthia Nelson-Gubbrud
Cynthia Nelson-Gubbrud

Obituary of Cynthia Jean Nelson-Gubbrud

On the afternoon of December 26th, 2022, Cindy passed away after a yearlong battle with cancer at Tucson Assisted Living Retreat in Tucson, Arizona shortly after being comforted by family. Cindy was 75 years old.

Born Cynthia Jean Gibson in Saint Louis, Missouri on September 13, 1947, to William “Bill” Gibson and Ruth Lucille Voss. She grew up hand in hand with her niece Beverly (Blackey) Sottung who was just a year younger and mentored by her sister Patsy Blackey and brother-in-law Charlie Blackey. Cindy graduated from Melville High School in 1966. She worked in clerical at the historic Anheuser-Busch Brewery while her father worked in production.  She married her high school beau in 1967 and traveled with him for his service in the United States Airforce to Great Britain. In England she worked as telephone switchboard operator where she made sure service members got their calls home.  One of those service men was Alan R. Nelson of Canton, South Dakota. She returned to the US to marry him and move to Vermillion, South Dakota.  They were married in June of 1970 in Canton. In June 1977, they adopted a 6-week-old girl through Lutheran Social Services who they named Jennifer. They moved as a family from Vermillion to Alcester where Cindy assisted Alan during tax season at his CPA office. Eventually they moved to Sioux Falls in 1985.  There Cindy worked for First Bank of Sioux Falls as a teller and safe deposit administrator where she met her long-time friend Sue Vesco.

Following her divorce in 1991, she left First Bank, working for the Veterans Administration as a receptionist before finally settling in at Orion Food Systems in 1994, then a Division of Schwan’s, as a receptionist/switchboard operator becoming the first person many heard when they called. There she met her longtime friend Diane Sykes. The time following her divorce was a financial hardship, but Cindy was tenacious and found two part time jobs to supplement her daytime work. During the week she worked as the night admin for the YWCA downtown, seeing many Snowfox Swim team members, and during every other weekend she was the nighttime admin/reception for Charter Hospital. 

Even with this busy work schedule she started dating Clayton Gerald “Jerry” Gubbrud mid-1993. Jerry had seen Cindy leaving the same attorney he was using for his divorce and reached out multiple times over the years before Cindy acquiesced to go on a date. This began a decade plus of companionship, with Cindy moving to the farm outside of Hudson, South Dakota around 1996. They welcomed the weddings of Jerry’s eldest daughters Paige (Glen Rehberg) and Gretchen (Chris Hammer), and Cindy’s daughter Jennifer (Melvin Kemp). Along with the marriages they welcomed Gretchen and Chris’s many foster children. They took on a full renovation of the house and Cindy slowly took over the groundskeeping around the property enjoying many hours on her zero turning radius mower. Additionally, Cindy adopted a few cats which then turned into a very large clowder which she doted on excessively. Jerry, though not a cat person, was the favorite of a few of them throughout the years.  

Jerry and Cindy were finally joined marriage in 2005 with longtime friends Cal and Sue Hanneld of Tea, South Dakota as witnesses at Lands Church outside of Hudson. Cindy was a regular for the Ladies Auxiliary at Lands helping with the after-services coffee hours, funeral luncheons, and other church activities.  Cindy was left a widow in 2006 from Jerry’s sudden death. Following Jerry’s death, the family made sure she kept active with seven grandchildren born between 2008 and 2013 and all of them were boys.  These boys include the Kemp side with Jennifer’s sister-in-law, Becca (Kemp) Huck who worked with Cindy at Orion from 1999-2008. Cindy travelled to South Carolina (Hucks) and Arizona (Kemps) for a few holidays with her favorite travel buddy Jocy Huck before she settled into retirement from Orion in 2015. She made many trips to see Benton (Jennifer and Mel’s son) to take care of him and see the sights in Arizona as well as hosting his first Thanksgiving and teaching him all the joys of her kitties and the coldness of snow.

During her retirement Cindy kept up with her activities with the Ladies Auxiliary, her cats and the groundskeeping of the property.  She kept up with the Hammers for breakfasts and shopping excursions with Sue Vesco, phone calls with her family in Missouri and her former sister-in-law Judy Nelson in Colorado plus keeping up with all the grandchildren. When the pandemic started, she kept close to home with a well-stocked pantry and church services online.  Cindy kept up the phone contacts with family and friends.

In late 2021 she came down with what was thought to be a respiratory illness but was diagnosed just before Christmas 2021 as Stage 4 Lung cancer that had metastasized to her thorax, brain, and bones. This diagnosis prompted a long hospital stay to stabilize her with a feeding tube and full brain radiation before returning to the farm with Jennifer as her primary caregiver.  In March 2022, Jennifer and Melvin moved Cindy to Tucson to an assisted care facility while her cancer was being treated locally.  She made good friends with Marilyn who also grew up in St Louis and was surprised with a visit for her 75th birthday by Diane.  While initially the medications were keeping her cancer at bay, by October they had stopped working and Cindy was place in in-home hospice.  The wonderful staff of Bristol Hospice and of Tucson Assisted Living Retreat kept Cindy warm and comfortable while she slowed down, had a brief hospital stay after a fall, and into her final moments on December 26th, 2022.

Cynthia “Cindy” Nelson-Gubbrud was preceded in death, by her parents, by her sister and brother-in-law, by her mother-in-law Mildred “Millie” Gubbrud, her dear husband C. Gerald “Jerry” Gubbrud, her and Jennifer’s friend Daniel Hanneld, former brother-in-law Gene “Mort” Nelson, and former sister-in-law Helen Nelson. She is joining her beloved cats and a few loyal dogs over the rainbow bridge.

Cindy is survived by her daughter Jennifer Nelson Kemp, son-in-law Melvin Kemp, grandson Benton Kemp; her niece Beverly Sottung, her nephew Craig Blackey, her great nieces Christa (Sottung) Shinault and Sarah Blackey, great nephews Anthony Sottung and Christopher Blackey as well as a plethora of great-great niblings and great-great-great niblings; her stepdaughter Gretchen Hammer and her family, Chris, Adam and Kayen; her stepdaughter Paige Rehberg and her family, Glen, William-Greyson and Britton; her daughter-in-law in heart, Becca Huck and her family, Rob, Viktor and Nikolai.  She is also survived by her former sisters-in-law Judy Nelson, Shirley Veldman and Linda Griffin as well as many nieces, nephews and further on the Nelson side. Friends Sue Vesco, Diane and Bob Sykes, Eileen and John Paulson, Cal and Sue Hanneld, Jocy Huck, and neighbors Ruby and Rodney Hakl, all miss her dearly.

Services will be held at Lands Lutheran Church, rural Hudson, on February 21st at 11 o’clock with a luncheon at the church after graveside services.  Cynthia's love of animals was well known, in lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Sioux Falls Area Humane Society in her name.



11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Tuesday, February 21, 2023
Lands Lutheran Church
47998 292nd Street
Hudson, South Dakota, United States

Luncheon following graveside services

Condolences may be sent to Wass Funeral Home in Beresford, South Dakota (605) 763-2232
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