Long-time BP supporter dies
For more than 60 years, LeMar Nelson prided himself on being a community activist, educator and journalist in his adopted hometown of Blooming Prairie. He touched many people’s lives through teaching, coaching, singing, writing and general community activism.
Nelson, 87, died Thursday, Jan. 9 in the Twin Cities.
Prior to coming to Blooming Prairie in 1957, Nelson was a standout athlete.
He grew up in the small town of Strandburg, S.D. In 1949, he helped his tiny team to the high school state basketball tournament, the only showing in Strandburg’s history.
Nelson later attended what’s now known as Dakota State University in Madison, S.D. where his nickname, “General” came from and stuck with him throughout his life. He played basketball in college scoring 1,004 points in his four year career. He set records for the most points in a single game both in conference and non-conference play and held those records for several years.
In 2006, he was inducted into the Dakota State University Athletic Hall of Fame. While at college, Nelson was the Student Body president, performed in theater productions and was editor of the yearbook and newspaper.
Nelson taught in the Blooming Prairie School system for 35 years. In addition to teaching English and writing classes, he was advisor for the BPHS yearbook and school paper for many years. He was also coach for the speech program, which produced several state participants and award winners over the years.
A short time after his “retirement” from education, Nelson took up his second career as a sports journalist with the Steele County Times, a position he held until his death last week. He enjoyed writing a weekly column, “Outside the Lines,” and stories on sports and school events in Blooming Prairie.
“His writing and passion for covering the community exemplified what a true community newspaper is all about,” said Publisher Rick Bussler. “LeMar was a gentle giant who cared so deeply for the Blooming Prairie community. It was such an honor to have him be a part of our newspaper for so many years.”
Bussler said he has never had an employee as committed to his work as Nelson. “He did his work without any complaining,” said Bussler, who worked with him for 10 of the 28 years he was at the newspaper. “He knew exactly what needed to be done and got it done in a timely manner with the readers always at the forefront of anything he did,” he added.
Nelson received many honors and accolades over the years. In 1966, he was named to the honor roll of the Minnesota Teacher of the Year. He was the Minnesota High School Press Association Advisor of the Year in 1986.
Some of the local honors included Blooming Prairie Jaycees Lifetime Achievement in 2002, BP Education Foundation Outstanding Blossom in 2008, Blooming Prairie Chamber Citizen of the Year in 2013, Boys and Girls Club Awesome Advocate in 2016 and Blooming Prairie Youth Club Outstanding Service in 2018.
“LeMar’s biggest achievement, however, was the impact he had on his family, students, friends, co-workers and community,” said Teri Hendrickson, his daughter.
Funeral services are scheduled for Saturday at 11 a.m. at First Lutheran Church in Blooming Prairie. See inside pages for more on Nelson’s life and commitment to the community.