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Dorothy Nelson

Dorothy Bernice (Reinkey) Nelson was born July 28, 1923, and died Saturday, March 9, 2019, at the age of 95-1/2 years.

She was born at home in Rock Elm Township, the first child of Arnold and Selma. Upon the death of her grandfather Jay, she chose to live at age five with her grandmother, Carrie Hawn in

Rock Elm “to keep her company.” Grandma Carrie operated a hotel in the then thriving little

village. As a child, Dorothy operated the switchboard there, played piano for the Methodist Church and attended the Rock Elm country grade school.

High school meant journeying to Elmwood High School where “Dot” was a cheerleader and

Junior prom queen with her king Glenn Nelson, her future husband. Her senior yearbook

described her “ full of pep as a bottle of Coke.” This never changed.

Upon graduation in 1941, she attended business college in Eau Claire while also working for

Dr. John Wishart. She acquired many skills that would serve her well in future jobs outside her

home, on the family farm and for their businesses in Elmwood.

After the war, she and Glenn married May 25, 1946, a marriage that would last over 70

years. After a time spent in Ellsworth and River Falls, they settled on their farm near Elmwood.

Dorothy worked alongside her husband on the farm, managed their household, raised four

children and worked outside of their home as well. She was initially deputy county treasurer

and later became the first woman to be elected to a county office in Pierce County in 1974

when she became the County Treasurer. Later she worked as the Register in Probate from

1979-1992 when she retired from that position after 18 years of working in the Pierce County

Courthouse. She also was the town clerk for the Village of Spring Lake for five years.

Dorothy loved her gardens, feeding her family fresh produce and healthy preserved food in the

winter as well as tending to her flowers and rose bushes. She and Glenn were able to take

many wonderful trips to Alaska, Canada, Mexico, China, Germany, Norway, the Middle East

and many warm months in Panama City Beach.

Music continued to be a large part of her life. She was the organist for the Spring Lake

Lutheran Church from 1950-1980. She loved her baby grand piano which she donated to the

Village of Elmwood in 2014 when her arthritic fingers would no longer do what she wanted

them to do.

Dorothy was active in the Spring Lake Lutheran Church from 1946 until her death. In addition

to her position as organist she taught Sunday School, served as an accompanist at many

church events and was an active member of the Ladies Aid/Circle until her passing. She was

also active in many other community organizations including the American Legion Auxiliary and

Pierce County Homemakers.

Life changed when her husband, Glenn died in February of 2017. Her loneliness was tempered

by the caring staff at Welcome Home Assisted Living, her family and many friends. She

remained the focal point of her family and the glue that held them all together. Until her last

days she would require a weather report and an update on the “goings on” of her children and

grandchildren. The last month of her life she was attentively and compassionately cared for by

the staff at the Heritage of Elmwood Nursing Home.

Dorothy was preceded in death by her husband, Glenn; her brother, John; and her parents,

Arnold and Selma. Also preceding her in death were brothers-in-law, Robert Reitz, Galen

Nelson, Richard Swanson and Arthur Lamon. Sisters-in-law, Ruth Swanson, Muriel Nelson

and Esther Lamon; as well as nieces, Kristen Swanson and Roxanne Phillips; and nephew, Mark Reitz also preceded her in death. She is survived by her children, Greg, Carrie, Ann and Arnie and their life partners, Vicki, Jan, Dave and Lori. Sister, Pat Ginsbach and her husband Ralph; sister, Mildred Reitz; brother and sister-in-law, John and Vera Nelson; as well as many beloved nieces and nephews also survive her.

She will be sorely missed by her grandchildren, Scott, Chad and Jodi Nelson, Sarah and Matt

Siegel, Derek, Tara and Tiffany Nelson and Amos, Kierce and Brynn Hare. Her 12 great-grandchildren also gave her unending joy and laughter.

There will be a visitation at Welcome Home Assisted Living, 1121 Industrial Ave. in Elmwood

4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 14, and one hour prior to services at the church on Friday.

Funeral services will be at the Spring Lake Lutheran Church at 11 a.m. Friday, March 15, followed by a gathering and lunch at Welcome Home for all who wish to attend. Friends and family might consider wearing some red those days for Dorothy, her favorite color.

The family suggests that memorials if desired be given in her name to the Spring Lake Lutheran

Church and Welcome Home Assisted Living.

Online condolences may be made at

Rhiel Funeral Home & Cremation Service of Elmwood is caring for Dorothy and her family.

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