Raymond M. Nelson

Raymond Manfred Nelson left this earth to be with our Lord on September 30th, 2018. He was a man of faith, who had quiet wisdom and gentle humor. He was humble, generous, loving, thoughtful and kind.
Please join us in celebrating Ray’s life and sharing in his love for you and our Lord on October 20, 2018, 11 a.m., at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Northfield.
Ray was born in Duluth on September 20, 1938 to Ruby and O. Plenny Nelson. They moved to Dennison when he was very young. After losing his father when he was 9, his mother moved their family to Fergus Falls, where he graduated from high school. He attended college at Concordia, Moorhead, and North Dakota State University, graduating with a degree in pharmacy.
In 1963 Ray married his high school classmate and the love of his life, Jan. They were best friends with an adventurous spirit who loved spending time together traveling and outdoors.
Ray and Jan moved to Wahpeton, ND where they started their family. They loved their jobs, parenthood, their church, the Jaycees, and had a wonderful group of friends dubbed the “Over 30 Group,” who still gather together once a year.
Ray and Jan ventured on to Bemidji, where they stayed for a few years until deciding to take time off and travel around the United States and Canada, eventually settling and building a home in Thief River Falls.
Ray was a pharmacist at Ekeren Drug for almost 30 years. He was active in his church and loved getting involved in his girls’ activities where he never missed a game or performance.
Ray helped start the Thief River Falls Figure Skating Program, and skated in many ice shows with his daughters. He was a member of the Arena Improvement Committee and helped with the youth and boy scouts at Zion Lutheran Church. Summers were enjoyed at Ottertail Lake and winter vacations were usually skiing in the mountains, with Big Sky a family favorite.
In Ray’s free time, he enjoyed bicycling, camping, running, motorcycling and inline skating. He competed in 6 inline marathons. After both girls had graduated, mountain climbing became a favorite. He built a climbing wall on the side of the house to practice. Even the school bused students to the house for special classes to learn how to climb.
In 1991 Ray and Jan joined The Highpointers Club where they climbed to the highest point of 49 states, with only Denali in Alaska being elusive. They had to settle for visiting it, rather than climbing it. Ray served on the board for the Highpointers Club and, along with Jan, handled membership for the club.
After retirement, Ray and Jan moved to Northfield, to be near their daughters and grandchildren. They enjoyed being involved in activities at St Peter’s Lutheran Church. Ray wanted to stay in pharmacy a bit longer and worked casually at Snyder Drug in Faribault and for Village Drug in Northfield.
Ray was able to share all of his adventurous spirit with his two granddaughters. He took them skiing, bicycling, hiking, inline skating, ice skating, camping, climbing, and on many trips and to High Pointers Conventions, visiting many states. What special memories they have of their Grandpa Ray!
Ray and Jan found a new adventure later in life- cruising. They went on many cruises, some lasting 4-6 weeks, going all over the world visiting 40 countries.
Four years ago, Ray and Jan decided to settle down and moved to Sun City West, AZ where they could relax in the warmth for some sun and fun. It was right about that time that Ray was diagnosed with cancer, which he fought courageously with dignity and grace. Despite being sick, Ray was able to explore Arizona, enjoy the neighborhood, the Ski club and many new friends.
One of Ray’s final wishes was to go on “one more cruise”. A 40 day cruise around Cape Horn in South America was planned, and all was ready, when the cancer became too much and took his life instead. He will now take on a new journey with the Lord.
Waiting to meet Ray in his eternal home are his parents and he will once again get to hold his infant son Jeremy in his arms.
Left here with beautiful memories are Ray’s loving wife of 55 years Janet, daughters Jessica (Tom) Barthelme, Jenny (Jeff) Swedin, and granddaughters Chessa and Marin Swedin. Ray leaves his loving siblings Phoebe (Darrell) Tomlinson, Plenny (Marilyn) Nelson, Hollis (Julia) Nelson, nieces, nephews, extended family and many friends.
Ray has climbed his final mountain.