Sunday, January 19, 2020

A Blooming Prairie Icon

Friends of LeMar Nelson lovingly remember him

LeMar Nelson was an iconic figure in the small town of Blooming Prairie he has always called home.

LeMar passed away at age 87 Thursday, Jan. 9 at the Masonic Homes in Bloomington after fighting some medical complications.

LeMar Nelson was well known to many in this small community, known for his education background and also for his writing abilities, having written for the Blooming Prairie Times and Steele County Times for over 28 years.

LeMar came to Blooming Prairie as a teacher in 1958. He taught, coached and served in administrative capacities during his tenure in Blooming Prairie.

Howard Lestrud, staff writer for The Times, contacted many of LeMar's acquaintances to put together some fitting tributes to this icon of Blooming Prairie history. His positive impact on the Blooming Prairie community will last forever.

In no certain order, here's what some of our community residents thought about LeMar:

 

Tributes to LeMar Nelson

 

JOHN WORKE

BP High School Principal

LeMar was a gentle soul who loved Blooming Prairie. Not only was he a historian for the school but he knew a lot about our community. 

Obviously, writing/journalism was a love of his, but sports was a big part of his life. He attended many sporting events at Blooming Prairie High School over the years and it was always nice to listen to his perspective afterwards. 

He was always searching for information to make his newspaper articles the best they could be. 

When LeMar was an educator, he took pride in teaching his students. He loved English – writing and journalism. He enjoyed putting together the BP Schooner each year as well as kicking out the weekly Black and White Chronicle. 

I also think my memories would not be complete until I mentioned his dedication to the First Lutheran Church. He was involved with many committees and was a member of the choir where he would individually perform on any given Sunday. 

 

LeMar was a great man who had a positive effect on many.  Losing his wife, Anne, back in the day, was hard on him. He has now been given the opportunity to join her.  R.I.P General, you will be missed by many.

 

CHRIS STALOCH

BP Schools Superintendent

LeMar is a Blooming Prairie icon. He was a wonderful man who cared about Blooming Prairie as a whole, but most importantly he cared about the people of Blooming Prairie. 

LeMar wrote for the local newspaper and loved covering the Blossoms. As a former head baseball coach, it was always fun handing over the score book to LeMar, knowing that no matter the outcome of the game he would put his positive spin on his beloved Blossoms.  

LeMar was very involved in our community. He was kind, and he cared. I had the privilege of knowing LeMar through school and sports. The Blooming Prairie Public School system was fortunate to have LeMar teach and coach here for so many years.

The school system and students were also fortunate to have him cover many events over the years as a writer. I am thankful for all his work, and most thankful for the opportunity to know him.  He will forever be remembered by those who knew him as a great man.

 

ALISON MACH

BP Associate Principal and Activities Director

LeMar was a true Awesome Blossom. He had a passion and love for our school and community that was incomparable. He rarely missed a game, event, and opportunity to showcase the many talents of our students and athletes through the years.

LeMar had a contagious smile and a kind heart. He made a positive impact on every person he met.

Even after moving away, he stayed invested in our schools successes and he continued to write with pride about our school. LeMar is the Awesome in the Blossom.

 

NATE PILLER

BP Boys Basketball Coach

LeMar was one of the kindest persons I’ve ever met and a great representation of Blooming Prairie.

He was such a well-rounded human being, a person our community could take pride in just as he took pride in our community.

He could MC Afternoon of the Arts, sing in the church choir, and write for the paper with equal authority.

Of course, he was retired from education before I moved to Blooming Prairie in 2000, but he was admired greatly by his cohorts. I’ve never heard a harsh word from him nor about him.

 

BARRY OLSON

Former BP Superintendent

I knew LeMar for over 36 years. I knew him as a teacher colleague, as an active writer for the BP Times, and as an active member of First Lutheran Church.

I would consider LeMar a true "Awesome" Blossom.

As a teacher he was involved in many activities: Speech, The Musical, Annual, the School Newspaper, etc. He always cared about the students first and had the respect of the staff and community.

When I was an administrator for BP Schools, I could always count on LeMar to write accurate and quality articles about our students and staff. 

He always kept connected to current and former Blossoms and was willing to write and talk about them whenever. He was at every possible game he could get to, and loved being a part of it all.

As a member of First Lutheran he was a rock. You could always count on him to do whatever and he was a fixture in the choir.  His faith was amazing.

He will be missed by many!!!

 

CHAD GIMBEL

BP Business Teacher

Varsity Football Coach of state championship team

Varsity Wrestling Coach

When I think of LeMar the first thing I think of he was a “Blossom” through and through. 

Obviously, I got to know LeMar the most through sports and his writing of Blooming Prairie sports. He was passionate about Blooming Prairie Schools, and the kids inside the school. He wanted to make sure every student, athlete got the recognition they deserved. 

When it came to sports writing, he cared about all sports at all levels, and wanted to make sure they all got their space and recognition in the newspaper. He cared so much about the sports teams and the kids who played those sports.

I could tell after the games he felt all the same emotions that I was feeling, whether it was jubilation, disappointment or frustration. I could see the same emotions in his eyes that I was feeling. 

If I truly had to select one word to describe LeMar it would be devoted.  He was devoted to his family, friends, church, the town, the school, and especially the kids. 

He was a pillar for our community.

 

KARI BOTTIN

Choir Director at BPHS

Choir member at First Lutheran Church

LeMar was an amazing man. He was kind and dedicated to everything he did. 

I got to know LeMar through church first as a rock solid dedicated member of the choir for over 60 years!! He was always there holding down the back row and leading the way on the bass part or singing one if his fantastic solos. 

LeMar was a giving person who gave his life to promoting the arts and athletics in Blooming Prairie. He would chase me down for articles on the musical or the choirs because he understood how important these things are to our community and our students and he wrote so beautifully about these events. 

He was always checking in to make sure he was up to date on what was going on and he came to everything. I always admired LeMar’s dedication to serve our community in this way. 

When I moved into his neighborhood, he welcomed me with two wooden singing angel ornaments because he knew how much I loved Christmas and loved to sing. 

Those ornaments sit on my shelf and every time I look at them I am reminded of him, his smile, and his gentle heart. LeMar will be greatly missed in this community.  

 

BECKY NOBLE

Executive Director

BP Area Chamber of Commerce

I am sure by now everyone has heard about our dear friend LeMar Nelson. LeMar passed away around midnight Wednesday. He had been living in an apartment complex in the Twin Cities close to his family. He had some medical issues lately.  

I know there are people in this community who did not know LeMar, and I feel for them. The people who did not know him missed out on a wonderful teacher, writer, historian, and friend.  

He would stop in my office 2-3 times a week to find out what was going on, fill me in on the Blossoms, share a story or just share kindness.

Sometimes he would just stop in for a piece of chocolate and a rest before venturing on to his next stop. He loved to read and would share what book he was reading.  

And, just like his books we did not share the same interest in television programs. 

However, his love for his family, church, community, plays and music always gave us plenty to talk about.  

He was an honest, hard working man who truly loved being a Blossom!   He will be missed!

 

TAMZEN JOHNSON

Blooming Prairie High School Play director

I first met LeMar after we had moved here in 1990. I was the senior choir director at First Lutheran and he was the foundation of the bass section. He had a strong and rich voice and sang "Birthday of a King,” which touched and inspired many hearts. 

This is what LeMar did....touch and inspire. His life was irrevocably connected with children, education and Blooming Prairie. 

Whenever I asked LeMar for help he never hesitated.  When I directed the children's choir he sang "All Gods "Creatures Got a Place in the choir "with my elementary students, surrounded by stuffed animals and kids, smiling and singing. 

He was our number one supporter of the high school musical. At our 50th Anniversary celebration last November, he attended and we all reminisced and thanked him for his contributions. 

In the 1980s, he played Daddy Warbucks in "Annie" for Renae Burns and in 2009 he played the General in "White Christmas" for Kari Bottin and me. 

He amazed our cast showing up to practice with all of his lines down and songs memorized the first day! 

 

Lastly, I served with him on the board of the Blooming Prairie Boys and Girls Club.  He attended every gala and gave generously of his time and financially. He inspired young people his entire life. 

I will miss his ready smile, charming wit and strength and support.

 

REV. HEIDI HEIMGARTNER

Senior Pastor

First Lutheran Church

To be in LeMar Nelson's presence was to be blessed. LeMar was a special combination of reverent and good-humored, easily able to relate to all age groups, with many curiosities; an excellent conversationalist. 

As much as LeMar loved sports, he also loved the arts. As much as he loved the community at large, he also loved his family, and his Lord -- serving others every day, with an open heart. Illness or injury rarely prevented LeMar from fulfilling his duties.

Some of the ways LeMar served First Lutheran over the decades include various leadership roles large and small, with at least two pastoral call committees. 

But LeMar shined most brightly as a member of the First Lutheran Church Senior Choir.  For many years he sang special music on Palm Sunday, "The Holy City," and a father-daughter Christmas Day duet, "Sweet Little Jesus Boy." 

LeMar's strong voice can be enjoyed forever on the First Lutheran Choir CD, especially "Built on a Rock." Inspired by Jesus' words in Matthew 7, Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.

LeMar was, above all, a man of faithful action. Assured in every loss by Jesus' power, we trust LeMar is singing in the heavenly choir. The congregation of First Lutheran gives thanks to God.

 

 

PER KVALSTEN

Close personal friend

Thank you so much for reaching out.

LeMar was a man that everyone could learn from. He put other people’s needs in front of his own. He was a passionate supporter of the youth in Blooming Prairie. He meant a lot to me, and I will miss him.

 

JARRETT LARSON

Captain of 2019 Blooming Prairie state championship football team (he was one of five captains, the others being Gabe Hagen, Zach Weber, Matt Pryor and Karson Vigeland)

I did not know him well, but I did know he did a great job of covering our football team. He always did a good job in his write-ups and I believe one of the reasons we had so many fans at all of the games was because of his writing.

He was very dedicated to covering Blooming Prairie sports.

 

 

JOHN BRUNS
BPHS Girls Basketball Coach

For the past 60+ years, Blooming Prairie athletics has had a truly Awesome Blossom covering its teams for the local paper, supporting every team in every season, and coaching dozens of teams. 

I have sometimes wondered how many games and how many athletes LeMar Nelson has watched over the years. I am sure the numbers are staggering. He has shared in many great victories and heartbreaking defeats. 

He knew every athlete and every athlete knew him for over 60 years. It is truly unbelievable the impact that LeMar has had in just this part of his life. 

In addition to athletics and his sports reporting, he was also an active church member, community servant, and lifelong educator. Our community lost a great one, but we will always remember LeMar and all that he has done for our school and community.

 

BETTY INGVALDSON

Organist for more than 60 years at First Lutheran Church

 

He was one of the best.

LeMar will be missed a lot. He was always ready to do solos in choir and many other tasks. He will always be remembered as Daddy Warbucks in the play, "Annie."

 

CHRISTINE BUTLER

First Lutheran Church Music Department

What a fine man! He was "Mr. Nelson" when he was our English teacher in ninth grade. He was the Grammar Guru, straightening out language tangles with infinite patience.

We grew up watching him sing bass in the First Lutheran Church Choir, sports and journalism. He was kind, very committed to any project in which he was involved.

There are so many happy memories of him singing sacred music, favorites such as "The Holy City," "Built on a Rock," "Sweet Little Jesus Boy" and "Lead Me Gently Home.

He loved to sing rousing spirituals. He is now inspiring the Heavenly Choir.

 

H PETERSON

Former Blooming Prairie teacher and former mayor

One of my great memories of being with LeMar was when I first came to Blooming Prairie. There was a group of men who sang together called the Moonlighters, and they asked me to join in. It was kind of a folk singing group, which fit the times of the late 60s. We sort of practiced once a week at somebody’s house and would get gigs all over mostly singing for our supper. LeMar liked to sing and eat so this was a good program. LeMar would sing bass, H would sing tenor and Bill Fritze would join right in singing songs of days long gone by. Others in the group were Milo Hoel on string bass and Dave Hagfelt. 

LeMar and Anne could be a lot of fun and when they hosted a party it was a blast,  the party would usually have a theme. Memorable ones were the “MacArthur Park Party” and the “going to the moon party.”

 

CHERI KREJCI

Krejci Ford and BP Cancer Group

LeMar was a Gentle Giant. Those are the words I would use to describe LeMar. He was a soft spoken, kind and gentle man. He loved this town, his church, and his friends.

He had a giant spot in his heart for the BP Youth Club. He was always a promoter of the club, we worked together on the “kitchen renovation.” He would never give up until that project was complete.

LeMar dubbed our motorhome the “Blooming Prairie Booster Bus.” We would take LeMar to football games with us and a group of friends, talking about the game, and whatever else may come up. A lot of laughs were had on that bus.

LeMar rode with us on the Cancer Group Survivor float at the Fourth of July parade a couple years ago. He was excited to ride with us, but we were worried about him overheating. He did fine, I was the one who overheated!! These are some of the great memories that we have of LeMar. He was truly Awesome Blossom.

 

See full story in this week’s print edition or subscribe online. Please subscribe here or current subscribers can login here.

Steele County Times & DCI

Steele County Times
507-583-4431
411 E. Main St.
P.O. Box 247
Blooming Prairie, MN 55917

Dodge County Independent
507-634-7503
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944

Dodge County Printing
507-634-2661
121 West Main St.
Kasson, MN 55944

 

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