Elaine Louise Nelson


Elaine Louise (Tjaden) Nelson passed away peacefully on December 31, 2021, in Cottage Grove, Minnesota, at the age of 94.

Elaine was born on October 9, 1927, and grew up in Ottertail County, where she graduated from Fergus Falls High School. After several years working at a dental lab, Elaine married Willard Nelson, whom she had known from childhood. Their marriage lasted nearly 70 years until Willard’s death in 2019.

Elaine and Willard raised five children (Karen, Philip, Mary, Amy, and Peter) in New London, Minnesota, where Willard was the New London-Spicer High School principal and superintendent for 34 years. When the children grew older, Elaine worked as a realtor in the New London-Spicer area. She was also active in New London’s Evangelical Covenant Church.

In 1994, Elaine and Willard relocated to Cottage Grove, Minnesota, to be near children and extended family. As grandparents, and later great-grandparents, their home was the center of many joyous family gatherings. Elaine published two books: a novel, Patches of Daisies, concerning the lives of Norwegian emigrants, and Poems and Prose, a collection of short fiction. Elaine and Willard loved to travel and were proud to have visited all fifty U.S. states, as well as each of Minnesota’s 65 state parks. Elaine was a lifelong gardener, birdwatcher, and advocate for monarch butterflies. She, loved to sing, had a near photographic memory, adored her grand and great grandchildren, was a devoted wife and helpmate for her dear Willard, and was a very loving mother.

Elaine is survived by her brother, Kenneth Tjaden of St. Paul, Minnesota; her five children: Karen (Doug) Kitt of San Francisco, CA, Philip (Mary King) Nelson of Woodinville, WA, Mary (Chris) Moe of St. Paul Park, MN, Amy (Randy) Krussow of Cottage Grove, MN, and Peter (Diane) Nelson of White Bear Lake, MN; eleven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Elaine was preceded in death by her parents; her husband Willard Nelson; her five sisters, Mae, Luella, Belvia, Rena and Mona; and four brothers, Otto, Fred, Dana and Glen.

The family would like to express our gratitude to the staff of Norris Square Care Home, Allina Hospice and Visiting Angels for the compassionate care given to our mother in the last few years of her life.

A memorial service will be scheduled later in the year, due to Covid-19 considerations.

May the memory of Elaine Nelson be a blessing.

Elaine’s Obituary, Tribute Wall and Video Tribute can be found online at Kok Funeral Home (

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