In the early evening on October 23, 2017, one day after her 91st birthday, Lena Bertha Nelson was once again in the arms of her beloved husband Ray.
Her funeral service will be held at 11:00 am on Sunday, October 29, 2017, at Buehler-Larson Funeral Home with Rev. Ron Hildahl officiating. Burial will take place at Fairhill Cemetery in Flasher.
Visitation will be from 5:00 to 8:00 pm on Saturday, October 28, 2017, at Buehler-Larson Funeral Home, Mandan, with a prayer service at 7:00 PM. Visitation will continue one hour prior to the service on Sunday.
Lena was born October 22, 1926, the youngest child of Oscar and Johanna (Kuhn) Peterson and was raised in Solen along the Cannonball River. She and her friends swam in the river all summer and skated on the Cannonball in the winter. Lena spent much time with her dad on his veterinary calls and meat deliveries from their butcher shop and ice harvested from the Cannonball during the winter. During the 1930s, Lena traveled with her family to Oregon in their old Model T to pick produce, earning enough to get by another year during the depression. Lena considered traveling to Oregon in a Model T a great adventure.
Lena graduated from Solen High School and college in Dickinson, becoming a teacher. She taught school near Linton and then got a job at a country school near Flasher. One evening, a shy farmer named G. Raymond Nelson worked up the nerve to ask Lena for a turn on the dance floor. They married on October 15, 1947 and lived in Oakland, California for a year and a half where Julie was born. Although Lena loved the conveniences of city life (electricity, running water and diaper service), Ray decided to come back to North Dakota, as he felt California was no place to raise a family.
Ray and Lena took over the original Nelson homestead. Lena and Ray had four children in quick succession, two boys and two girls and several years later they had another to break the tie, a boy. In addition to raising their children, Lena and Ray raised cattle, hogs, grain, chickens, and milked cows. There were times when Lena, heavily pregnant, would drive to Solen to hire boys to come and help on the farm. Lena loved having relatives, friends, and neighbors visit. There was always room for more at the table. Oftentimes a meal was stretched to accommodate visitors who just stopped by at meal time. Lena had relatives from New York who loved to show up unannounced, one time catching her bloody to the elbows butchering chickens. Lena lost Ray in the fall of 1988, and then helped her son, Scott, as he took over the farm. Lena moved to Mandan in 1995.
Lena will be deeply missed by her children, Julie (former husband Richard) Renner, Mandan; Gary (Valene) Nelson, Monroe, Wash.; Jody (Tim) McLaughlin, Lake Stevens, Wash.; Jim (Ginny) Nelson, Lincoln; Scott Nelson, Flasher, (Lori Nelson), Bismarck. Lena and Ray had shared 15 grandchildren; 27 great-grandchildren and a new baby due this spring, and one great-great-granddaughter.
Lena was preceded in death by her husband, Ray; her parents; a brother, Emit Peterson; sister, Ella Sinclair; and grandsons, Jacob and Eric Renner.