Marlene Nelson, 82, of Watford City, ND, passed away early Friday morning on April 14, 2017 at the Good Shepherd Nursing Home in Watford City.
Marlene Sylva Sanford was born on Jan. 1, 1935, the first child of Sigrid (Broderson) and Ingeman Sanford. She was born in Watford City in the home of Leonard and Maude Sanford. Marlene spent her first years in the Banks area, moving to town when she was in the 5th grade. Marlene graduated from Watford City High School in 1953. She was very active in school, participating in anything musically related; she sang, played flute, and accompanied groups on the piano. One of her crowning achievements was being a drum majorette for 5 years, including twirling the fire baton. Marlene always liked to be the center of attention, with her blonde hair, quick laugh, and big smile.
She graduated from Minot State Teacher’s College in 1955. While in college, she continued to be a majorette, was first flute in the band and on the honor roll. Marlene’s first job was as a 2nd/3rd grade teacher in Alexander. She worked for 2 years before her career aspirations were thrown aside when she met a handsome young veterinary student who came through town on a summer internship. The story goes that she was standing in front of Lundeen’s Drugstore in a yellow and white striped dress with yellow shoes when he drove by. The rest, we say, is history. Marlene Sanford became Mrs. Robert (Bob) Nelson on June 23, 1957.
After living in St. Paul, Minot, and Hebron, they moved back to western North Dakota in 1967 where Bob opened the Watford City Veterinary Clinic. Marlene used her love of music and people and her education to serve her community. She participated in the Women’s Club, taught Sunday school, served on the Good Shepherd Home board,. the first Children’s Choir at First Lutheran Church, organized the Centennial Choir, subbed at the grade school, and worked at the library. She was honored to be chosen as North Dakota’s Mother of the Year in 1993.
One of Marlene’s greatest achievements was being a mother and grandmother. She loved spending time with her children and grandchildren. She taught her children numerous nursery rhymes, finger plays and songs. As a grandmother, she spent countless hours with her grandkids, coloring, singing, and making up stories with sound effects. They grew up thinking all grandmas were like this, not realizing how special her time with them was.
Marlene was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa in the late 1970’s and became totally blind by 1983. She also had Usher’s Syndrome which eventually progressed to a severe hearing loss. Marlene was later diagnosed with Essential Tremors and Parkinson’s Disease, which worsened to the point where she qualified for Deep Brain Stimulation.
Marlene passed away at the Good Shepherd Home in Watford City on Good Friday, April 14, 2017. She was preceded in death by her husband Robert Dale Nelson, her parents Ingeman and Sigrid Sanford and her brother-in-laws Vern Suelzle and Arne Leom. She is survived by her sister Beverly Leom, brother Douglas (Jean) Sanford, son Tim (Lisa) Nelson, and daughters Kris Pacheco and Geri (David) Beckman, grandchildren Amanda (Brian) Presteng and their children Annika, Samuel and Norah, Allison (James) Arcadi, and their children Dominic, Clare, and Simeon, Michael Pacheco, Gus Nelson, Joe Nelson, Laurel Nelson, and Grace Nelson, Aunt Lucille Broderson and numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.
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