Ann Marie Nelson passed away on May 8, 2020, surrounded by her loving family.
Ann was born on April 21, 1952, to Carl and Ruth Gustafson of rural Ortonville, MN. Ann was raised on the family farm and attended Ortonville Public School where she graduated in 1970. Ann attended Moorhead State University with an emphasis in vocal music. A highlight of her college years was the vocal music tour across Europe where she sang soprano in the concert choir. In 1972 she married her high school sweetheart, Tom Nelson, in Hagerstown, Maryland. From this union two daughters were born. Ann worked as a cook at the Clinton school, was a music therapist at Northridge Residence, and a florist. Prior to her retirement she worked as a paraprofessional at Ortonville High School.
Ann spent many days using her talent in vocal music by singing at weddings, funerals, worship services, and special events. She was especially known for her powerful renditions of “How Great Thou Art” and “The King Is Coming”. Ann believed singing at a memorial service was the last gift she could give to the individual. Her love of music also included playing the autoharp and listening to music of all genres, but especially 60’s rock and roll.
Ann had a great appreciation and interest for other cultures and history. She particularly valued her Scandinavian heritage and had a deep respect for Native American traditions. Ann collected and studied antiques and filled her home with unique curiosities that she enjoyed teaching others about.
Ann loved plants and animals. This bloomed when she and her husband built their home on Big Stone Lake. She was known for stopping to flip a turtle right side up on the road and for serving as crossing guard for waterfowl. She adored her dogs, Lydia and Esther, and tended to many flowers around her home. She shared this passion for nature with her husband. Tootsie and Buster spent many hours together enjoying the birds, deer, and other wildlife around their home. Ann’s pockets were often full the of arrowheads, stones, shells, and wildflowers she collected.
The struggles in Ann’s life gave her deep compassion for others. She always cheered for the underdog and gave everyone a “pass” on mistakes made in life.
Ann is preceded in death by her mother and father; brother, Ronald Gustafson; and sister, Donna Washburn.
Grateful to have shared her life is her husband, Tom; daughter, Jessica (Brian) Webster of Sioux Falls, SD; and their children: Ian and Anika; daughter, Amy (Dr. Lawrence) Leon of Yankton, SD; and nieces and nephews.
Memorials can be sent to Ortonville Area Health Services – Hospice, 450 Eastvold Ave., Ortonville, MN, 56278 or at their website, ricehealthfdn.ejoinme.org.
A private family graveside service will be planned at a later date.