Alvin Nelson, Albert Lea

Published 9:41 am Tuesday, November 6, 2012

“A man with a pure heart who lived a life of service to others.”

On Jan. 15, 1918, Alvin Everett Nelson was born on a farm near Alta, Iowa, the son of Nels and Agnes (Petersen) Nelson. He attended Highview Consolidated School north of Alta. Alvin accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior and was baptized at the Elk Baptist Church where he later became president of the youth group. He also served as a member of the Northern Iowa Danish Baptist Youth Board. On April 19, 1941, Alvin was united in marriage to Evelyn Jane Petlon. They were blessed with two daughters and two sons. They farmed together near Storm Lake, Iowa. Following in his father’s footsteps, Alvin’s special project as a young farmer was his herd of purebred Duroc hogs. He served on the board of directors of Fairview Consolidated Schools, became the clerk of Scott Township, a committee member of Farmer’s Home Administration, and a Sunday School teacher and Treasurer of Elk Baptist Church.


In 1951 Alvin answered God’s call to the ministry. He and Evelyn sold their farming operation and moved to Chicago with their four young children. Alvin entered Northern Baptist Seminary in January 1952 where he received his Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1956, and in 1971 his Master of Divinity degree. During seminary he and Evelyn operated the student bookstore for four years. He was active at Temple Baptist Church where he served as a Sunday school teacher and deacon. In 1956 he was ordained to the Christian ministry and for the next 15 years served churches in Fredricksburg, Iowa, Fairfield, Iowa, and Holdrege, Neb. In 1971 he accepted a call to serve in a new ministry role as the administrator of the Winnebago Baptist Home in Winnebago where he served until retirement in 1980. He and Evelyn returned to their roots in Aurelia, Iowa, and enjoyed retirement years. In 1993 they to Albert Lea to become a part of the Thorne Crest Retirement Community where Alvin continued his ministry by generously volunteering to serve the Thorne Crest community in a variety of ways. Evelyn preceded him in death suddenly in 2001, and on Jan. 11, 2003, Alvin married Ardys K. Swenson, the second love of his life. Alvin enjoyed woodworking, gardening and competitive corn husking.

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Those who preceded him in death include his parents; Evelyn, his faithful and loving wife of 60 years to the day; his two sisters Ruth (Delmer) Ross and Bernadine (Wayne) Gaston; his two brothers Woodrow (Irene) Nelson and Floyd Nelson.

Surviving him are Ardys, his loving wife of nine years; his four children: Jim (Nan) Nelson, Jane Ann Nelson, Susan (Ken) Jump and Frank (Rosemary) Nelson; three stepchildren: Joan (Bob) Porter, Steve (Bonnie) Fogdall and Jon Fogdall; nine grandchildren: Tim (Nikki), Eric (Teresa), Christine (Chad), Dan, Cory (Steffani), Amy (Chris), Angela (Richard), Paul (Kaz) and Joel (Ann); nine stepgrandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren and 11 step great-grandchildren; two sisters-in-law Marian Nelson and Gwendolyn Miller; one brother-in-law, Bob Petlon, and numerous nieces and nephews.

Alvin “slipped from earth to heaven” on Nov. 2. Victory!! He often said, “I am among all men most blessed.” And he was a blessing to all who knew him. A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Thorne Crest dining room. The Rev. Jamie Cameron will officiate. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be designated to Thorne Crest for use in the chapel.