JoAnn Elaine (Thorvaldson) Nelson, 85 of Rollag, MN passed away peacefully, Tuesday, February 21, 2023, at Hawley Senior Living in Hawley, MN.
JoAnn Elaine Thorvaldson was born June 17, 1937, in Barnesville, MN to Orville and Anna (Larson) Thorvaldson. She grew up in rural Barnesville and attended country school through the eighth grade. She graduated from Barnesville High School in 1955 and went on to attend Interstate Business College. JoAnn began her career working in Fargo, ND.
JoAnn married Arlen Nelson on April 11, 1959, at Rollag Lutheran Church. They made their home in Rollag on the original H.C. Nelson homestead and in 2006 received the honor of Century Farm Homestead. JoAnn loved living in the Rollag community and was active in the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion and Ladies Aide at Rollag Lutheran Church. She also served as a volunteer election judge for many years at the Parke Township.
JoAnn started working as the secretary at Hawley High School in 1964 and was there for 38 years. She was a staple at the school and enjoyed working with many students that took advantage of the opportunity to be “JoAnn’s Office Girl” and help her out when they had a free period. JoAnn’s attention to detail and willingness to go the extra mile ensured the high school ran efficiently. She enjoyed being at the school with her children and grandchildren. They knew they could always count on her for an extra dollar if needed. JoAnn took some time off after her retirement but soon missed not knowing all the happenings in town. She went back to work at First National Bank and then on to Tony’s Super Valu where she greeted everyone with a smile.
JoAnn was a great baker. She always had a pan or two of bars in the freezer for when company stopped by, and her homemade bread was loved at all the Nelson family gatherings. She also looked forward to making lefse with her daughter, daughters-in-law, granddaughters, sisters, and cousins every fall and knew just how much flour to add to get the right consistency. It was a tradition she carried on from her mother and Aunt Clara.
JoAnn was an avid sports fan and in her later years rarely missed a Minnesota Twins, Vikings or Lynx game on television. She also still loved to follow and cheer for the Hawley Nugget high school teams.
JoAnn’s life revolved around her family. She thoroughly enjoyed attending her children and then grandchildren’s activities. Whether it was a sporting event or music concert, she was always there. She was so proud of each of them and knew how to make everyone feel loved.
JoAnn may have been petite, but she will be remembered for being the one that wore the pants in the family.
She is survived by her three children, sons, Eric (Sandy) Nelson and Paul (Carla) Nelson of Rollag, and daughter, Gretchen (Dave) Knain of Fargo; ten grandchildren, Josh Nelson of Rollag, Ashley (Charlie) Finn of Stillwater, MN, Brent Anderson of Moorhead, Kayla (Andrew) Oppegard of Rollag, Kristie Dablow of Hawley, Ariane Stern of Dallas, TX, Calen Rude of San Antonio, TX, Paige Knain-Blanchard of Washington D.C., Alyssa Knain of Fargo and Anna Knain of Moorhead and 9 great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her four sisters, Mavis Larson and Phyllis (Joe) Vasquez of Fargo, Grace Wangen of Crystal, MN and Kay Johnson of Indianapolis, IN and several nieces and nephews.
She is preceded in death by her parents, husband, and 3 brothers-in-law.
Visitation will be from 5:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M. followed by the prayer service at 7:00 P.M., Friday, March 10, 2023, at Rollag Lutheran Church, rural Hawley, MN. Visitation will continue on Monday, March 13, 2023, from 10:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M., followed by the funeral service at 11:00 A.M. at the church. A recording of the service will be posted here on JoAnn's webpage shortly after the service. Burial will be at Rollag Lutheran Church Cemetery following the service.