Wilbur LeRoy Nelson, age 76, of Isanti died August 29, 2022 at Prairie Senior Cottages in Isanti. A Memorial Service will be held at 11:00 A.M. Saturday, September 10th at Faith Lutheran Church in Isanti. A Memorial Visitation will be held from 5:00 – 7:00 P.M. Friday, September 9th at Strike Life Tributes in Isanti and also one hour prior to the service Saturday at the church. Interment will be in Diamond Lake Cemetery near Aitkin at a later date.
Wilbur was born on November 5, 1945 to Charles and Leonore (Paulson) Nelson in Aitkin, MN. Wil attended school in Aitkin graduating in 1963. He attended Bemidji State College, graduating in1967 with a teaching degree in social studies, and a Master’s Degree from St. Cloud State in 1972. Wil met Karleen in the fall of 1965 at a Lutheran Student retreat near Bemidji. They were married on April 6, 1968 at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fridley, MN. The Bemidji Luther Student Center has remained a special place in their hearts over the past 57 years. Wil also spent a number of years on the state Lutheran Campus Ministry board.
In 1972, Wil and Karleen built a home in rural Isanti where they started a family. In 1988 they built another home on 20 acres 2 miles from Isanti so their three sons could be closer to their school and activities.
Wil began his teaching career in 1967 as a junior high English/Social Studies teacher in St. Francis. He later became a high school social studies teacher at St. Francis High School where he finished his 34 year career, retiring in 2001. Wil spent a number of those years as the Student Council advisor. During the majority of his career, he was known as “The Voice of the Saints”, as he announced most of the high school sporting events in St. Francis. He also announced football games for Cambridge-Isanti when Kerry was in high school. Wil enjoyed watching Chad, Kerry, and Bjorn in their various sports or activities; while taking an active role and being great about encouraging them to try different things. Wil himself enjoyed softball as his summer activity, playing for over 30 years in local men’s leagues with some of his best friends.
In 1993, Wil did a 2-week teacher exchange in Denmark; where he got a good idea of Danish life while staying with a family there. He taught social studies in a Danish school.
Community was important to Wil as he spent some years on the Athens Township board, and as an election judge in Isanti Township.
Wil’s faith was very important to him and he was very active over the years at Our Savior’s Lutheran of Cedar and Faith Lutheran of Isanti. While attending Faith Lutheran he was a youth leader, on the church council, sang in the church choir, and was happy to preach a sermon on any given Sunday when the pastor was gone.
Wil loved to travel and planned a 2 month rail trip throughout Europe during the summer of 1973. Wil and Karleen traveled two other times to western Europe. Both of which they visited their Swedish son, Magnus, who was an exchange student living with them during the 1977-78 school year. They’ve also traveled to Mexico, Canada, and 43 states including Alaska and Hawaii .
For over 40 years, Wil and Karleen enjoyed their monthly 500 card club with their life-long friends. Finally, Wil loved going back to Aitkin where they had built a cabin in 2004 on the same lake where he grew up. To him, Aitkin was God’s country.
Wil passed away on August 29, 2022 at the age of 76. He was preceded in death by his parents; Charles and Leonore Nelson. Wil is survived by his loving wife of 54 years, Karleen; sons, Chad (Marcy), Kerry (Blanca), Bjorn (Karrie) and Magnus Karlsson (Swedish exchange student 1977-78); grandchildren, Keith, Annya, Alan, Aneliz, Claire, Matthew and Brayden; brothers, Jim (Rikki) and Bob (Judy).