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Frances Nelson, 91, of Atlantic, Iowa, passed away Saturday, June 4, 2022 at the Exira Care Center in Exira, Iowa.
Frances Ellen Karstensen was born on December 28, 1930 to Holger and Esther (Bishop) Karstensen at her parents’ home northeast of Lewis, Iowa. Growing up during the Great Depression, Frances was proud of her family’s life on the farm. She learned from her parents’ grit and generosity, with her father spending long days in the field while her mother prepared meals for threshing crews and the occasional traveling worker. Her family always cared for each other and their neighbors, despite the challenges of the time. Frances was baptized and confirmed at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Atlantic. She attended rural school near Elk Horn, Iowa, and later Atlantic Community Schools when the family moved north of Atlantic near the Buck Creek United Methodist Church. After graduating from Atlantic High School with the Class of 1949, she lived in the Cappadelle Apartments with several other young women, all of whom would become lifelong friends. She worked various jobs in the Atlantic area, including as a dental assistant for Dr. Allender in Atlantic.
While in high school, she once spotted a young man on her bus to school and thought, “now that’s the kind of guy I’d like to marry.” On August 23, 1953, she was united in marriage with that young man, Robert Lyle Nelson, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Atlantic. Robert’s service in the United States Army took the couple to Grafenwöhr, Germany for 14 months shortly after their wedding. After returning to Iowa, they made their home north of Atlantic and were blessed with three children. Like her mother, Frances was a homemaker, raising their children and supporting Robert on the farm. She took pride in her large flower and vegetable garden; she treasured time tending to it with her children and canning her harvest. She also raised and butchered chickens, sold eggs, milked dairy cattle and churned butter, all as a means to support her family. Their farm was a labor of love, and it allowed Frances and Robert to care for the needs of their family while connecting them to their history.
Away from the farm, Frances was committed to her community. She exemplified a woman who lived her faith and was a lifelong member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. She was also a member of Church Women United and received the Valiant Woman Award. As a Valiant Woman, Frances was recognized as leading through her example and living the Gospel message in her everyday life, in her church, and in her community. She also volunteered countless hours with the Cass County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary and enjoyed spending time with the Marne Red Hat Society. In her younger years, she taught Sunday School at the Buck Creek United Methodist Church and was a 4-H leader for many years.
Above all, Frances believed in the importance of remembering our collective history and traditions. She was proud to share her Danish heritage with her children and grandchildren. Holidays were spent tightly gathered around the family table, the growing family looking forward to the meal Frances had prepared, including traditional Danish aebleskivers and pickled herring. She had a wide variety of interests related to history, including genealogy, reading, painting, and anything to do with trains and steam engine equipment.
According to her family, Frances was the bridge to their past and the well of their strength. She is survived by her husband of 68 years, Robert L. Nelson of Atlantic; children, Steven R. (Tammie) Nelson of Marne, Sandy Sothman of Atlantic, and Shellie (Rob) Anderson of St. Peters, MO; grandchildren, Caleb (Kilee) Nelson of Greenfield, Luke Nelson of Marne and significant other, Denise Walker, Hannah Nelson and significant other, Caleb Affuso of Denver, CO, Sara (Nate) Jensen of Huxley, Abby (Colby) Spann of Des Moines, Zach Anderson and significant other, Courtney Chapman, of St. Peters, MO, and Josh Anderson and fiancé, Megan Gruendler of Cottleville, MO; sister, Ethel Sturdevant of Grimes; brother-in-law, Dale Nelson of Ankeny; and nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
She is preceded in death by her parents; father-in-law and mother-in-law, Lawrence and Irene Nelson; and brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, Fred Sturdevant, Vera (Mac) McDermott, and Peggy Nelson.
A visitation will be held on Thursday, June 9, 2022 beginning at 10:00 a.m. at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Atlantic. Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. immediately following the visitation, with Pastor Laurie Boysen officiating. Following the service, all are invited to attend a luncheon in the fellowship hall of St. Paul’s. The burial will be held at the Atlantic Cemetery following the luncheon.
Memorials will be designated to the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church Building Fund, 1011 East 13th Street, Atlantic, Iowa 50022.
Roland Funeral Service is caring for Frances’ family and her arrangements. Condolences may be left at www.rolandfuneralservice.com.
Thursday, June 9, 2022
10:00 - 11:00am
Thursday, June 9, 2022
Starts at 11:00pm
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