Cover photo for Leon W. Nelson's Obituary
1932 Leon W. Nelson 2024

Leon W. Nelson

September 2, 1932 — April 25, 2024

Portland, ND

   Leon Wendell Nelson, 91, passed away with his family by his side, under the compassionate care of the Sanford Hospital in Mayville ND on April 25, 2024. 

   Leon was born on his home farm to August and Cora (Holkesvig) Nelson on September 2,1932 in Roseville Township, Portland ND. He was baptized and confirmed at Trinity Lutheran Church in rural Portland ND. Leon went to a one room schoolhouse through 8th grade at Roseville #1 and graduated from Portland High School in 1950. He grew up with three brothers and two sisters on a farm that his father established after coming to the US directly from Sweden. After high school, Leon continued to farm for his father and for his neighbors while raising white turkeys.

   Ironically at the Trinity Lutheran Church at a youth gathering, Leon met his future devoted wife, Inez (Amb) Nelson of Galesburg ND. They married on December 29, 1955 at the Elm River Lutheran Church in Galesburg. The couple spent the early years of their marriage moving around as Leon worked for a construction company that built the elevators in Finley, Hazen and Marion ND. They settled in the city of Portland ND with their two close-in-age daughters, Sandra (1956) and Kandiss (1958). Here Leon was employed at the Mayville Creamery and then worked in the meat department at Piggly Wiggly. He also took on the trade of being a butcher at the Portland Meat Locker Plant.  

   In 1963, Inez’s father, Albert Amb, gave Leon the opportunity to purchase the Galesburg farm and they also exchanged houses in the process. Leon, now as an independent farmer, found his true calling in life. Shortly after taking over the farmstead, their son Roy (a future farmer) was born in 1964. Later in 1972, their daughter, Jody, was their last addition to the family making that a 16 year span from their oldest child to youngest child. Through all of these years, Leon and his son have farmed together. They have raised wheat, barley, oats, alfalfa, sunflowers, edible beans, soybeans and corn for silage and grain. In fact, Leon was one of the first in the area to ever harvest corn for grain. Overtime, the farm welcomed dairy cows, beef cattle, hogs, laying hens, rabbits, lambs, dogs, cats and one stubborn Shetland pony.  Leon loved buying bottle fed Holstein calves and feeding them every day with milk replacer until they went out to pasture. For two years, in the winter, in the 1980s, Leon worked for the US postal service where he hauled mail at night between Fargo and the small towns. During these farming years, he also served on the Dows township Board, Galesburg Fire Department, Farmer’s Union Erie Oil Company, Traill County Farmers Union Board, Elm River Credit Union Board and the Elm River Lutheran Church council.  

   Fishing and hunting were his passion. He had hunting traditions with the same group of family and friends for many years and several stories have been told. True or not.. one will never know. He was so proud to see his grandchildren take on the liking for both of these outdoor activities. Leon could have fished all day and all night if his son would let him. 

   Leon “technically” retired in 1994 when his son took over the family farm but truly Leon did not stop working in the field until September 2023 at the age of 91. He was determined to get three productive days of truck driving done for corn harvest before he had to hang in the towel. 

   In 2002, Leon and Inez moved back to the city of Portland ND where they had started beginning of their journey together. Through their years of marriage, they enjoyed square dancing, bowling, playing cards, gardening, berry and apple picking and each other. Leon was a very patient, kind and fun father who rarely ever raised his voice…. only if his kids got hurt. He had a way of making people smile and laugh. He loved to joke around and yet he would say something, in his Swedish accent, that was so profoundly clever that it left you feeling so dang good. He was a very strong man who worked sun up until sun down but absolutely loved it and enjoyed it, especially along the side of his only son. 

   Leon is survived by his loving wife of 68 years: Inez; his grateful children: Kandiss (Butch) McVey of Sparks NV, Roy Nelson of rural Portland ND and Jody (Jeffery) Stevens of Portland ND:  his son-in-law: Irwin Haaland of Mayville ND:  grandchildren: James (Virginia) McVey of Elko NV, Patrick (Janelle) McVey of Spring Creek NV, Roy Jr. (Rosa) Nelson of Minneapolis MN, Elizabeth (Jordan Cossette) Nelson of Independence OR and Emma Stevens of Portland ND;  great grandchildren: Olivia and Amelia McVey of Spring Creek NV; brother: Dean (Jane) Nelson on the home farm of Portland, ND; sister-in-law: Dorothy Nelson of Mayville, ND; God-daughters: Cristy Nelson and Terri Nelson;  and many very dear and special nephews and nieces.  

   Leon is preceded in death by his cherished daughter: Sandra Haaland; parents: August and Cora Nelson; siblings: Virgil (Leona) Nelson, Leona (Virgil) Neset, Alda (Lloyd) Ellefson and Dale Nelson.


Visitation:  Will be 5–6:30 PM on Wednesday, May 1, 2024 with a 6:30 PM Public Prayer Service at the Baker Funeral Home Chapel in Mayville, ND and will resume one hour prior to the service at the church.

Funeral Service: Will be held at 10:30 AM Thursday, May 2, 2024 at the Bruflat Lutheran Church in Portland, ND.

Burial: Will be in the Bruflat Cemetery in Portland, ND. 

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