GENE NELSON

gene-nelson-web-photo.jpgGene W. Nelson of Braham, died Tuesday, January 20, 2009 in Bella Vista, Arkansas. He was 74 years old.

FUNERAL SERVICE will be 11 A.M. on Monday, January 26 at Braham Mission Covenant Church with Rev. Steve Jennisch officiating. VISITATION will be from 3 to 5 P.M. on Sunday, January 25 at Rock – Ingebrand Funeral Home in Braham and 1 hr. prior to the service at the church on Monday. Memorials to Braham Mission Covenant Church.

Gene Willard Nelson, beloved husband, father and grandfather passed away at age 74 in Bentonville, Arkansas on January 20, 2009. Gene was born March 18, 1934 to Clarence and Ruth (Fossom) Nelson in Minneapolis. He attended Big Lake schools and graduated in 1952. He continued his education with a degree in Education/Coaching from St. Cloud State in 1955. He met the love of his life, Phyllis Longman, on a blind date in 1953. They married three years later on Aug 4, 1956 in Madison, MN. They welcomed their son, Calvin Gene, into the family on June 22, 1957 and later their daughter, Diane Marie, on November 26, 1960.

Gene furthered his education by earning graduate degrees in guidance counseling and school administration. He enjoyed a long career as an educator and innovator. He began as a high school social studies teacher and basketball coach in Jackson, Minnesota in 1956. He continued his career in Benson, Minnesota and took a team to the State Basketball Tournament in 1964.

He moved to Braham, in 1967 and over the next 23 years he invested his time and talent into the community in educational, civic and church venues. His many accomplishments include:

High school counselor, community education director, high school principal and athletic director

During his tenure in education he initiated the semester class system for high school in the 1960s; helped develop the third middle school in the state; developed the “school within a school” concept that allowed 7th and 8th graders to be housed and educated in the same building with 9-12th graders with two separate schedules which permitted little or no contact between the two groups; he helped plan and develop the East Central Minnesota Cable Cooperative which offered additional courses via Television

City Councilman for 3 years and Mayor for 6 years

Started West Central Drive Court mobile home park in 1970

Helped found Braham Development and Real Estate, Inc. in 2001 which developed High Point Estates, and Scheele’s Rolling Acres

Former member of the Planning Commission, Civic & Commerce, Jaycees, and Braham Properties

Realtor for Braham area

Active member of the Braham Covenant Church, including Chairperson of the Church

Gene has been directly involved in bringing several new businesses to Braham and promoting the community and surrounding area in every way he could manage.

Gene was inducted into the Braham Hall of Fame in 1994. Darwin Nelson (no relation) introduced him at the induction ceremony by saying, “You may think of Gene as a counselor, a landlord (trailer court owner), an athletic director, a community ed director, your principal, your mayor, your realtor, or the guy across the table at the Park Cafbut above all he’s a no. 1 Braham fan. Gene Nelson has invested a lot in Braham, he has invested his time, his enthusiasm, his money, and a large portion of his life here. He raised a family here, knowing that Braham could give them values and opportunities that weren’t available just anywhere”

Gene’s passions in life were family, church, athletics– particularly basketball–friends, good food, helping others and celebrating life. He thoroughly enjoyed the success of Braham athletics and attended as many sporting events as possible.

He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Phyllis, his son Calvin, daughter Diane, son-in-law Joel Marpe, two granddaughters: Leslie and Stephanie Marpe, sister-in-law Carmen Nelson, three Nieces: Carrie O’Reilly, Joan Halligan, and Katy Anderson. Gene is preceded in death by his parents Clarence and Ruth Nelson, his brother Robert Nelson and nephew Curt Nelson.

6 guestbook entries for GENE NELSON

  1. bob and della theis January 25, 2009 at 4:28 pm #

    Braham has certainly lost one of those outstanding legends with the death of Gene. He covered so many areas with so much passion in the community. I can still hear him say with such deliberateness how we must promote the schools in Braham. He was always doing that–school, community, family. For all of these things he will be so lovingly remembered and because of all of these things, he will be dearly missed!

    Phyllis, Calvin, and Diane, our deepest sympathy to you.

    Bob and della

  2. Carol Fiedler Brandt January 26, 2009 at 12:16 pm #

    Gene was my school counselor and we also attended Braham Covenant Church together. I moved away years ago but when I did come back to visit, Gene was always so warm and friendly. He was a huge part of Braham and will be missed. My deepest sympathies to his family and to the Braham community. – Carol

  3. Joe and Carol Lutz January 27, 2009 at 9:54 am #

    Gene Nelson and I graduated from St. Cloud State in 1955, with physical education and coaching certificates, and were reunited in the Rum River Conference and District 16 in the 1960s working closely on athletic problems that would enlarge the opportunities for students in our respective schools to have opportunities for participation. Great person to know and work with. Great friend, and a person of trust. Will be greatly missed in Braham, for all his contributions to that community. He will, also, be greatly missed by both Carol and me.
    Joe and Carol Lutz, Mora and Mesa, AZ

  4. Mirinda Johnson January 29, 2009 at 9:01 pm #

    My thoughts and prayers go out to Gene’s family. I worked for Rasmussen Services and mowed the lawn i will never forget Gene crusin around the yard on his golf cart or when he would just sit there and watch, I loved mowing the back to see the wonderfull garden and it smelled so good to. Gene will be missed by many. God Bless.

  5. Dave and Ardella Rued January 30, 2009 at 10:09 am #

    Gene and I attended Big Lake High School together and were best of friends then and through the years. He and his wife, Phyllis introduced Ardella and I, 52 years ago. Our deepest sympathy to Phyllis, Cal and Diane and their families. We will all deeply miss him. Our prayers are with them. Dave and Ardella Rued, Ormond Beach, Fl

  6. Richard W. Johnson February 2, 2009 at 9:46 am #

    I was very sorry to learn of Gene’s death. I have known him since first grade at Big Lake Public Schools. He was the one who got us all (“us” is a small group–we had a class of 20 kids) playing basketball in grade school, so that we had a pretty good team by the time we were in high school (we won the conference championship two years in a row). I am still playing basketball (full court) three times a week in a men’s exercise program, thanks to Gene’s influence. We have always enjoyed seeing Gene and Phyllis at our class reunions. We will miss him. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.
    Dick & Adelle Johnson, Madison, WI

All guestbook entries must be approved by a site administrator

site by Rivermile