Ardell Nelson passed quietly on June 10, 2020 in the company of her daughter. Ardell was born in Minnesota in 1930, one of 13 children to her parents Gustav and Martina. After graduating as valedictorian of her high school, she taught in a one-room school house in North Dakota. In 1952, she served as a youth delegate to the Lutheran World Federation and traveled to Hanover, London, and Norway.
On her return she met her future husband, Robert Nelson, also of Minnesota. Rob and Ardell were married in 1954 and ran the grocery store started by Rob’s parents. After their children were born, they moved to Helena in 1964 where Rob worked for the state and Ardell taught kindergarten at St. John’s Lutheran Church. She completed her education degree at Carroll College in 1969 and began a long career in the Helena school system, teaching at Rossiter, C.R.Anderson, and Hawthorne schools. She retired in 1992.
In Helena, Ardell served as an officer in the Sons of Norway where she and Rob taught folk dancing, and was an active member of Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church. She was especially fond of gardening and earned a reputation as one of the best local lefse makers.
She was thrilled in 1992 to celebrate the birth of Maggie, her first grandchild, and Alex, her second, followed four years later. She and Rob also enjoyed traveling, especially trips to see family in Minnesota, and their children’s homes in Virginia and California. When Montana winters felt too severe, they would spend a few months each year in Sedona. They also took trips to connect with relatives in Norway. When not traveling themselves, they were happy to host international guests as part of Friendship Force.
Rob and Ardell celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2004. A few years ago, they moved from their home on Helena’s west side to assisted living at Touchmark. Rob passed away in 2018. Ardell is survived by her three children, Ross, Koren, and Eric, two grandchildren, Alex and Margaret (Maggie), and two siblings, Wanda and Lorraine.
Donations in Ardell’s name can be made to God’s Love, 533 N. Last Chance Gulch, Helena, MT, 59601