Viola Nelsen

Published 1:00 am Thursday, December 6, 2018

Memorial services for Viola “Vi” A. Nelsen of Albert Lea will be at 2 p.m. Monday in the chapel at St. John’s Lutheran Community, 901 Luther Place in Albert Lea. The Rev. Erica Cunningham will officiate. Interment will be in Graceland Cemetery at a later date.

Viola Nelsen

The key to living to 102.5 is to  keep moving — even when it hurts, ask questions, keep in touch with your friends and relatives, don’t eat fried food, eat out of your garden and plant perennial flowers.

Vi Nelsen passed away Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, concerned only that she could no longer do anything for others. Born in Bancroft Township, she lived most of her life in Albert Lea, leaving to work in Chicago during World War II. As noted in Cheri Register’s book, “Packinghouse Daughter,” chronicling the history of Albert Lea’s labor movement, Vi was one of 11 women employees who protested in the Woolworth’s store in the 1930s, demanding higher wages and better working conditions. Vi wanted her co-workers treated fairly.

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Shortly following World War II, Vi returned to Albert Lea and in 1947 married Donald Nelsen in The Little Brown Church in the Vale.

Throughout her life she worked hard in her jobs and as a homemaker and was a wonderful cook and gardener.  A fastidious housekeeper, even in her last months she wanted to get the dust kitties out from under her couch, hoping to leave with everything in order, not wishing to make work for others. Caring for people was important. For years she attended to the needs of her elderly relatives and friends, always remembering them on birthdays and special occasions.

A member of Salem Lutheran Church, she sang in the choir, was active in Lydia Circle, visited congregation shut-ins weekly and provided rides to church services.

Vi was preceded in death by Donald;  her parents Fred and Ingeborg Heggelund; her sisters Helen Heggelund, Alice Meixell and Lilly Leeper; and nephews Dick, Joe and Roger Nelson. 

For the last 14 years, Vi lived independently at Knutson Place apartments and leaves a legacy of friendship and smiles with residents and staff.