LeMar Nelson leaves a legacy of love for BP
LeMar Nelson was the heart beat of Blooming Prairie for many years.
His heart stopped beating last week with his passing at age 87 but his impact on this small, southeastern community will be everlasting and has always been positive.
LeMar was one of the more recognizable old-timers in Blooming Prairie. He will be remembered as one of the most respected humanitarians in town.
He had a radiant personality and a wide smile. He shuffled when he walked in his later years but the determination to be an active resident of Blooming Prairie was still there.
He will never be forgotten by his family and by his many friends.
I knew him well, even though I only knew him for about five years. It did not take one very long to get to know LeMar and see his strong attributes that built him into a loving friend to many.
Here was a man who deeply cared for his own family and for another family that consisted of people he served in education and in his journalistic career.
LeMar was a quality journalist for the Blooming Prairie Times and later Steele County Times for over 28 years. He wrote mainly stories about Blooming Prairie sports teams.
LeMar touched everyone he met by giving them a hardy smile and an infectious laugh. Look past his grizzled beard and into his eyes and you saw love. Yes, LeMar loved everyone, even if he only knew them for a short time.
Tributes have been many the past few days and they share the common thread emphasizing a caring affection for his community. He was a true Awesome Blossom, even though he was not a native of Blooming Prairie.
He spent most of his years in this southeastern Minnesota community, raising a family of three daughters with his wife Anne.
LeMar came to Blooming Prairie in 1958 from South Dakota. He taught 35 years in the Blooming Prairie school district.
He lived in the same house on Main Street until he departed in the fall of 2018 to be closer to his three daughters in the Twin Cities area. He lived in a high-rise apartment building in Richfield.
It was not LeMar's preference to move away from Blooming Prairie, but he knew that his family was right in saying he needed a closer link to them.
Since journalism has been my life line for over 50 years, it was to my delight that my career continued in retirement and during retirement, I met an experienced journalist named LeMar Nelson.
LeMar faced some major health issues the past five years. I was fortunate to be able to take him to many of his doctor appointments and to get to know him better.
I also was able to deliver bound volumes of old issues of the BP Times to his home when he was writing the history of Blooming Prairie for the past 25 years (in observance of Blooming Prairie's 150th anniversary.)
We shared a love for writing and a love for sports. LeMar, of course, was a loyal Blooming Prairie Blossom fan and he, with no apology necessary, let it show in his sports writing.
LeMar had many talents, writing being one, but there were many, many more. He was an outstanding teacher, getting to know his students personally. He also was a strong administrator, one who didn't rule with an iron fist but with true, loving compassion.
Another of his many talents was his singing voice. He sang in the First Lutheran Church for many years. He often soloed.
Young people were important to LeMar. He loved to talk about his former students and to recall their memories of being a Blooming Prairie Blossom. He also was very active while serving on the board of directors of the Blooming Prairie Boys & Girls Club.
I had the occasion to write about LeMar on a couple of occasions. I will share some of those words.
In an editorial about LeMar leaving Blooming Prairie, I wrote:
LeMar Nelson is indeed a Blooming Prairie iconic figure.
He is not a native of Blooming Prairie but has spent most of his years in this southeastern Minnesota community.
It is nice to say some beautiful words about someone when they are still alive. LeMar, 86, is still with us but just a little farther away. He moved to Richfield last weekend to be closer to his daughters in the Twin Cities.
LeMar says it will be just for three months and he hopes to return to Blooming Prairie next spring. His health issues have forced the move to the Twin Cities.
LeMar of course is known for his many years in education, most of them in Blooming Prairie as a teacher, principal and coach. He has also been very active in the community, writing for the Blooming Prairie Times/Steele County Times for the past 27 years. His writing has been mostly aimed at sports.
This beautiful person is one of the most respected gentlemen his community has known. He has been a very important cog in shaping the lives of young people via the schools and through his involvement in the BP Boys and Girls Club.
LeMar is also known for his wonderful voice. He has been a fixture in the First Lutheran Church choir for many years.
We wish to thank LeMar for his civic mindedness and for his caring gestures to all who know him in Blooming Prairie.
This is not a goodbye but rather a "See you soon."
LeMar did return for a few visits since he moved northward. One of his last was last November to attend a 50th anniversary of musicals in Blooming Prairie. He wore his Blooming Prairie Blossom letter jacket.
I also wrote about LeMar's unbelievable record of attending 60 Blooming Prairie High School Football Homecoming games.
"It means quite a bit to me," Nelson said after sitting on the Awesome Blossoms players bench for the 60th consecutive time. "I almost got wiped out with a Goodhue player tackling one of our players right in front of me," Nelson laughed.
Nelson said he covered almost half of the 60 Homecoming games for the local newspaper.
In my piece on LeMar's Homecoming dedication, I wrote: "Ask LeMar any question about Blooming Prairie sports history, and about city history, and he will have an answer."
LeMar told me last fall that he was planning on slowing down. He continued to write sports stories and his entertaining and informational column, "Outside the Lines."
LeMar loved to write his column, covering a myriad of subjects. He laughingly said, "I'm a legend in my own mind."
LeMar's daughter Teri said she believes LeMar waited for the Blossoms football team to win the Class 1A state championship. He was then ready to meet his Lord, she said.