Milton “Mickey” Norris Nelson

Published 6:30 am Friday, June 21, 2024

Milton (Mickey) Norris Nelson, 103, WWII Veteran passed away on May 14, 2024.

Milton “Mickey” Norris Nelson

Milton was born June 27, 1920 to Norman & Alice (Anderson) Nelson in his Clarks Grove home. He attended Clarks Grove School to 8th grade and then graduated from Albert Lea High School in 1939. Milton married Dardanella Anita (Camp) at the First Baptist Church in Clarks Grove on June 15, 1941. Milton has lived on Main Street in Clarks Grove his entire life, building two homes across the street from his birthplace and then moving back into his birthplace upon retirement. Dardanella (Dardie) preceded him in death on January 10, 2008. He married Marguerite (Margie) Christensen, a lifelong family friend on July 27, 2008, at the First Baptist Church in Clarks Grove, and they enjoyed 12 years of marriage before she passed away on December 22, 2020.

Milton was a lifetime member of the First Baptist Church of Clarks Grove, serving as church moderator, Sunday School teacher, Deacon, singing in the choir and helping with various projects, pulpit committees and a Bible study group. In his 90’s he spoke many Sunday mornings offering a “Minute with Milt” during the 150th anniversary of the church.

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At the age 17 Milton started his first business driving kids to school in a wooden bus which was built onto an old gravel truck chassis. The seats were along the sides and faced the middle, holding 20 kids. The next year, he traded off for a 36-passenger bus. Then he upgraded it for a 71-passenger bus eventually becoming Nelson Bus Service. He drove school bus for over 58 years and remembered many of the kids that were on the bus.

During the summers to earn a living, he would mow lawns as well as haul gravel for his father’s company, Nelson’s Gravel. He spent two years in Canada building the ALCAN Highway with the Army Corp of Engineers, working long days, often from the seat of a D8 Caterpillar, which his dad provided to help build the roads.

From there he enlisted in the United States Army and was stationed at Fort Knox, Camp Hood, and Camp Roberts. He did work in the Armored Division on new large tanks and other heavy equipment that were being sent overseas. During his two-year tour of Service, he had hitchhiked home and back to base many times with one of those times for when his son, Ken was born. He had many stories of the people who stopped to pick him up along the way over those years. While he was at Camp Roberts in California preparing to leave for the Pacific Theater, the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan. As Japan surrendered, he was honorably discharged from the US Army and arrived home as WWII ended in 1945.

He continued with his bus company and worked with his dad in the gravel business and eventually took over his dad’s business. He expanded the business into a cement plant and dug basements with a dragline. The Black Sunday tornado on April 30, 1967 destroyed his gravel business. He kept the school bus business until his retirement in 1984.

His hobbies were square dancing, camping, being dedicated to his purple martin bird houses, spending the winters in Arizona for 25 years, (enjoyed working as a bagger at Basha’s Grocery Store in Lake Havasu City), rock and gem club and fishing especially in Canada and Lake Winni (Winnibigoshish). Milton was a life time member of the American Legion Post 56 in Albert Lea, Minnesota

When Milton was about to turn 100 years of age, he was encouraged to walk 100 miles to raise money for the local Salvation Army food shelf. He wanted to give back, because as a young boy growing up during the depression, he saw many people in lines for food as they could not provide for themselves. In August of 2020, he met his goal of 100 miles and walked the last half mile with the support of a large group behind him. His goal was to raise $5,000 in walking 100 miles, but far exceeded that goal by raising over $110,000.

Milton is survived by three children, Kathy Jensen, Clarks Grove; Ken Nelson, Clarks Grove, Michelle (Paul) Kelm, Faribault. Grandchildren Cindy (David) Callahan and their children Logan (Kylie Wachlin) and Dakota. Chris Jensen and his children, Travis and Alyssa. Colette (Cory) Bauers and their children Nathan (fiancé Tamara Lopez-Turrubiartes), Aaron (Carissa Nelson), and Sabrina. Troy (Kelly) Nelson and their children Ashley and Stephanie. Wayne (Kate) Nelson and their children Sasha (Hunter) Pankratz, and Nicholas. Jessica (Ross) Pearson and their children Jude and Lane. Amanda (Jonathan) Anderson and their children Everett and Levi. Brianna (Mark) Cronk and their children Oenn and Harley.

Step daughters, Carol Cox (Bill) Herr and Peggy Evenson. Step grandchildren Jackie (Travis) Olson and their children, Lillian (fiancé Tucker Eriksmoen), and Luke. Stacy (Ricky) Ferguson, Anthony (Courtney) Zanghi and their children Hadlee and Brian. Denise (Kevin) Wilson and their children Audree and Kyler. Shane (Kelly) Christensen and children, Alexa, Bradon and Trenton. Andy (Lisa) Christensen and children Sam, Sophie, and Alex (Jes) Madson and their child Alyssa.

He is survived by sister-in-law Ruth Sanders and by many nieces and nephews.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Norman & Alice Nelson, a sister Eunice who passed away before he was born at the age of six. Dardanella and Marguerite. Father & Mother-in-law, Albert & Nettie Camp. Son-in-law, Irvin D. Jensen Jr. Sister-in-law and brothers-in-law, Avalon (Lonnie) & Harold Murphy, and Andy Sanders. Stepson and step daughter-in-law, Galen & Linda Christensen. Stepson-in-law, Kenny Evenson.

Thank you to Kathy Reed, Nancy Anderson, Skip Cromwell, and John Jacobson for all their help and kindness given to our dad.

Per Milton’s wishes, his memorial service will be held on what would have been his 104th birthday Thursday, June 27, 2024 at 3 p.m. with visitation from 1:30 to 3 p.m. at the First Baptist Church in Clarks Grove. Pastor Jamie Cameron will be officiating. Memorials may be given to the Albert Lea Salvation Army Food Shelf, First Baptist Church, or the Clarks Grove Baptist Cemetery.