Dr. V.R. Nelson

Born: Thu., Jan. 20, 1921
Died: Sat., Apr. 28, 2012


10:00 AM to 11:00 AM, Wed., May 02, 2012
Location: First Lutheran Church, Sioux Falls

Funeral Service

11:00 AM Wed., May 02, 2012
Location: First Lutheran Church, Sioux Falls


12:00 PM Wed., May 02, 2012
Location: Woodlawn Cemetery, Sioux Falls

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Dr. V. Ronald Nelson, age 91, of Sioux Falls, Professor of Physics and Aeronautics at Augustana College for 50 years, died Sat., April 28, 2012, at his residence.

Vernon Ronald Nelson was born to L. James and Cora (Bakke) Nelson on January 20, 1921, at Webster, SD.  He graduated from Waubay High School, attended the University of Iowa, and graduated from Augustana College in 1944.  He received his Master and Doctorate degrees from the University of Colorado.  He served in the US Navy Air Corps from 1944 to 1946 during World War II.  His post-doctoral study was at Michigan College of Engineering, University of Illinois and University of North Carolina.

In 1946, he was appointed instructor in physics and mathematics at Augustana College, Sioux Falls.  During a distinguished teaching career he served as chair of the Physics and Math Dept.  In the 1960s, directed by Dr. Nelson, Augustana operated the largest aviation ground school in the Upper Midwest and, in 1974, was selected as the test center for all aviation ratings.  

Dr. Nelson was the designer and builder of the first heart stimulator (defibrillator) used at McKennan, Sioux Valley, Mitchell and Parkston Hospitals.  He was a key figure in the design and installation of the electronic system at Zip Feed Mill, billed as the “world’s most modern feed mill”, in Sioux Falls.  He built the first transmitting equipment for Augustana’s radio station, KAUR-FM.  He was active as a consultant in accident reconstruction as well as the design and manufacture of gas controls for furnaces and water heaters.  

He was a member of First Lutheran Church, Augustana Fellows, Augustana Booster Club, SD Academy of Science, American Institute of Physics, American Assn. of Physics Teachers, National Science Teachers Assn., Sigma Xi National Research Honorary and Sigma Pi Sigma National Physics Honorary.  He served for many years as Federal Aviation Examiner and was a Certified FAA Ground School Instructor of Private, Commercial and Instrument Pilots.  He was active in many local community agencies, including Good Samaritan Society and United Day Care.

V.R. was the recipient of several honors and awards which included Augustana Founders Day Award, Alumni Achievement, Friend of Augustana Award, Good Samaritan Society Service Award, FAA “Spirit of Flight” and was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame in 2008.

Survivors include his wife Dr. Joyce Nelson of Sioux Falls; one daughter Cindy (Robert) Ellsworth of Madison; two grandsons, Adam Ellsworth of Sioux Falls and Dr. Andrew (Laura) Ellsworth of Boise, ID; one great-grandson Eli Ronald Ellsworth; one sister, Dr. Elaine McIntosh of Green Bay, WI and several nieces & nephews.  He was preceded in death by his parents and his first wife Margaret (Meester) Nelson.

Services will be 11:00 AM, Wed., May 2, 2012, at First Lutheran Church, 327 S. Dakota Ave., Sioux Falls.  Visitation will be one hour preceding the service at the church.  Burial with Military Honors will be at Woodlawn Cemetery, Sioux Falls.  The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be directed to the Nelson-Ellsworth Scholarship Fund at Augustana College or First Lutheran Church Media Ministry.

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Condolence Booklet

Roger & Karen Ellsworth
   Posted Sun April 29, 2012
We are so sorry to hear of your loss. May God lay His loving hand upon you in your sadness. V. R. was a wonderful man who walked in God''s path and influenced many in a positive way. What a blessing he was. He will be missed.

Yours In Christ,
Roger & Karen Ellsworth

Robb & Barbara Schmidt
   Posted Sun April 29, 2012
Cindy and Bob,
Sorry to hear about VR , he was a great man at a top institution!
Forever Blue & Gold,
Robb Schmidt

Martin Fisher and Linda Hemminger Fisher
   Posted Sun April 29, 2012
We are so sorry for your loss. What a wonderful man and an inspiring instructor! Prayers are sent your way! Blessings to you all. Linda

Kristi Worden
   Posted Mon April 30, 2012
Joyce, I am so sorry to learn of the loss of VR. I pray for comfort during these upcoming days.

Ron Gullickson
   Posted Mon April 30, 2012
My condolences to the family of Dr. Nelson on the loss of your loved one. I was one of his students at Augustana in the early 60''s. His flight ground school class was one of my favorites. God Bless.

Mike Flynn
   Posted Mon April 30, 2012
Joyce, Bob, and Cindy

So sorry for your loss. Our prayers go with you. V.R. truly made a difference in the lives of Augustana students. Mike & Sue Flynn

Dan and Joannie Holdhusen
   Posted Mon April 30, 2012
Joyce and family - We were saddened to hear about VR's death. What an incredibly brilliant and outstanding man he was. But, what transcended his intellect and creativity was his kindness, compassion and great capacity to love...his family and all those he met.

I (Dan) was privileged to know you both over the years, and always came away from our encounters with my spirit lifted. May our Lord comfort you as you mourn VR's loss. He will always be remembered.

Robyn Tyler
   Posted Mon April 30, 2012
Joyce and family;

I am so sorry to hear of your loss. What a great legacy Dr. Nelson leaves through his accomplishments, daughter and grand children. You have been one of the most influential people in my life and I want you to know you ar ein my thoughts and prayers. May your faith and memories give you strength in saying good bye to your life partner.

God's Blessings and with sympathy;

Robyn Tyler, RN, MS
Augie Class of 1983

Kenneth Tiahrt
   Posted Mon April 30, 2012
VR Nelson was a giant among educators and an inspiration to everyone who met him and especially to his students. He illustrated a lifestyle for each of us to strive to emulate. I and many others owe our motivation for whatever achievements we might claim to VR.

All hail to his memory and Excelsior!

Anne Christopherson
   Posted Mon April 30, 2012
How Gerry and I admired the accomplishments of Ron, but we especially admired the man for who he was - kind, caring, sharing, modest tho extraordinarily gifted. Joyce, you added to and aided him greatly. Cindy, your great abilities were certainly enhanced by your father's guiding. Adam and Andrew (you'll always be Andy), you had a great legacy to grow up with and be encouraged by. Bob, what a good in-law you had. Love and condolences to you all. He will be missed.c

Kay Pearson and Jack Mohror
   Posted Mon April 30, 2012
Dear Joyce
Our thoughts were with you as we drove across SD on Saturday. We talked of the times we spent with you and VR. Sweet memories. What a remarkable man he was! And what a remarkable woman you are! May the hole left in your heart begin mending.
All of our love to you. K and J

RuthAnn Wilson
   Posted Mon April 30, 2012
I have so many wonderful memories of Ron over the years. I rmember when he came to visit our family on the farm near Withee WI in his handsome uniform before leaving for the service in 1944. I grew up hearing so many interesting stories about my cousin Ron. Over the years he accomplished so many things that made our family proud of him. But most of all, we were all blessed by his sweet and gentle, vibrant spirit and his loving interest in everyone he met. Blessed by Ron's memory.

Millie Eldridgr
   Posted Mon April 30, 2012
VR will be missed . I was proud to have know him!!
You all have my heartfelt sympathy. Will keep you all in my prayers.

Coleen (Ellsworth) Johnson
   Posted Mon April 30, 2012
Cindy--Joyce--brother Bob:
You were all so lucky to have enjoyed Doc for so many years. It was always a pleasure to renew our friendship at family gatherings. I''''m so glad Doc (name I knew him as) was presented with his precious grandsons, Adam and Andrew; and then great-grandson Eli! Words simply can not convey the enormousness of his kindness, goodness,abilities and accomplishments. He will probably invent something "up there" that God hasn''''t thought of. Rest in peace, Doc. You deserve the best. Coleen

Lowell Jahr
   Posted Mon April 30, 2012
My most sincere condolences to Cindy and Bob and Family in the loss of their father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Dr Nelson in his humble way served both God and man throughout his life. God bless his memory. Lowell Jahr

Adeline Bergeron
   Posted Mon April 30, 2012
My prayers and thoughts are with you during this difficult time. If it had not been for Docs help my senior year, I wouldn't have graduated with a Math major in 1961. I feel blessed to have known him. May God be with you.

Earl and Barb Hyink
   Posted Mon April 30, 2012
Cindy, Bob, and family....
Our condolences to you in the loss of Cindy''''s father. It sounds like he was a remarkable man. Thinking of you with sincere sympathy, Barb and Earl

Mary Meier
   Posted Mon April 30, 2012
Joyce, sorry to hear of the loss of your dear husband. May the Lord watch over you.

Jim and Becky Logue
   Posted Mon April 30, 2012
Dear Cindy and Bob,

We are sorry to hear of your loss. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Jim & Becky Logue

Lisa Hirsch
   Posted Mon April 30, 2012
Very sorry to hear of the families loss. Dr Nelson was always a very good neighbor to Ken & Lorraine .. and he was my first College professor. He will be missed by many!

The Hirsch family .. Lorraine, (Ken), Lisa, Lori & Kim

Lori Forman
   Posted Tue May 01, 2012
Joyce, Cindy and Bob:

While saddened by VR's passing, we rejoice in the life he lived. A wonderful educator and a great friend, he inspired students and colleagues alike. My prayers are with you during this time.

Barb Rustad-Taing
   Posted Tue May 01, 2012
Dear Joyce and Family Im very sorry to hear of the passing of your nice husband Dr. Ron Nelson . Your all in my thoughts and prayers . Joyce you were such a wonderful and nice neighbor to my Late Dear Parents Dr. H.C. Rus Rustad and Beverly Rustad McKillip and me Barb you helped us out on more than one occasion I will never forget you and your kindness Take Care God bless you all Barb Rustad-Taing friends always .

Janice Woodward-Buus & Donald Buus. Sioux Falls
   Posted Wed May 02, 2012
It is difficult to lose a parent, but, his memories are yours forever. My mother, Doris Amdahl Woodward, was Dr. Nelson's 1st cousin. Our prayers to you and your family.

Glenda Stene
   Posted Wed May 02, 2012
Cindy, Joyce and family,
You have our sympathy at the death of your father and husband. What an accomplished man. I recently golfed with a teacher friend who talked about her physics class with your father/husband at Augie and said he was such a knowledgeable and good professor.

Cherish your memories. God bless you all.

Glenda and Dennis Stene

Mark, Gretchen and Grant Noordsy
   Posted Wed May 02, 2012
VR was an inspiration to me – he taught me to fly in real life and personally as well! He was a great man and I was fortunate that he was part of my life. He was very accomplished and openly shared his knowledge to help others learn and grow. I will always have great memories of my time VR and his timeless mentoring. I hope my son, Grant, will find a similar inspiration during his time at Augie (he is a freshman this year).

Darwin Husby
   Posted Wed May 02, 2012
Dear Joyce, Cindy, Bob, and family,
I just wanted to send you my condolences on the passing of VR.
I know how close all of you have been which makes this time difficult,
but it also gives you lots of love and memories to cling to. Hold on to
those wonderful memories as well as your faith.
Your old friend,

David Froiland
   Posted Thu May 03, 2012
Nelson Family,
How very sorry I was to hear about the passing of Ronnie. He and Margaret were my Godparents. Even though I didn't see him very often, I was always so proud of the fact that he was my Godfather - especially walking around campus at Augustana. Margaret always gave me a box of Double Mint Gum for my birthday and I always thought that was very special. Ronnie was a very impressive man and I will always be proud of the fact that he was my Godfather. I think of him often and will continue to do so. My deepest sympathy. David Froiland

Brett & Lori Van Bochove
   Posted Fri May 04, 2012
Joyce, Cindy, Bob, Adam and Andrew,
We just heard about VR's passing. We are so sorry for your loss. Although only neighbors for a short time, I can't imagine life without having had the opportunity to get to know VR and all of you. We have truly been blessed! Please know that our prayers are with you. While the next steps will be hard, because of who you are, and how Ronnie has helped shape each of you, you will shine brightly. God bless you and please except our sincere condolences.
Brett, Lori, Jon, Adam & Christopher Van Bochove

Mary Jane Minnig
   Posted Fri May 04, 2012
Our deepest sympathy to you and your family. VR was such a warm and generous person. Jim took two aviation courses and appreciated the concern and encouragement VR provided.
God''''s comfort be with you.
Mary Jane & Jim Minnig

Bill & Asella Crum
   Posted Mon May 07, 2012
Dear Joyce and Family,

Bill and I send our condolences to all of you We just learned of your husband and fathers death as we are visiting our children in Oregon. It was such a treat to see the two of you in Dec and meet Adam too. What a great life he lived. You can be so proud of him for all he has done for our country and for the students as well of all the people who met him.

Bill and Asella Crum

Woody (Dale) Hohman
   Posted Tue May 08, 2012
To the Nelson Family:
I have prayed that you will sense God''s love at this difficult time.
As an Augie student I was inspired by Dr. Nelson''s brilliant, creative, sensitive nature, and saw the heart stimulator and other ''50''s projects take form.
He helped sculpture my life with a very positive and direct influence on both my time in the military, and later my professional career with IBM.
A wonderful man by every measure.

Mona Graves
   Posted Wed May 09, 2012
Dear Joyce,

Truly a life lived with purpose and consequence. A caring man with an impressive legacy. My thoughts and prayers are with you.


Sharla Schelske Owen
   Posted Fri July 06, 2012
Joyce & Family,
I am so honored to have worked with Doc at Augie through the student work program! He was one professor whom I never had for a class but I will remember forever in my heart! Joyce - you and VR welcomed me to your home to help clean up outdoors one fall and even hosted a party when my family came to town. I am grateful that he took me under his wing! Thank you for all the Christmas cards through the years. I have been able to keep in touch and read about all the exciting travels.

Bless your family! God has his hands busy now!

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