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“Its difficult to verbalize how much of an impact Aunt Mary has had on my life. She, along with Aunt Marge, was a role model of goodness, kindness,...Read More »
1 of 3 | Posted by: Dee Anderson - Bonita Springs, FL

“I am so sorry, for your loss. Mary was a wonderful woman! ”
2 of 3 | Posted by: Christy Hargis - Wells, MN

“Mary was a good friend of my mom and dad. they had many fun times together. so glad I got to spend time visiting with her at shepherds inn and to...Read More »
3 of 3 | Posted by: marlene culbertson - wells, MN


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Mary Chaffee Nelson, age 100, of Wells, MN, died Monday, February 26, 2018 at Parkview Care Center in Wells, MN. A memorial service will be held Monday, March 5, 2018, at 11:00 AM at Open Doors United Methodist Church in Wells, MN, with Pr. Paul Woolverton officiating. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service at the church. Interment will be held at a later date at Lura Cemetery.
Mary Chaffee was born December 8, 1917 to Roy and Alta (James) Chaffee on the Chaffee homestead in Lura Township, northwest of Easton, MN. Before she was 2 years old the family moved to Albert Lea, MN. A few years later her father wanted to return to farming so they moved to the Shoen homestead on the banks of Maple River in Lura Township. She and her siblings Donald and Marjorie started country school about a mile from their home. Sometimes they rode their ponies to school. In the spring when she was in 3rd grade, her parents bought a farm south of Winnebago in Verona Township, and she attended school in Winnebago. She was confirmed at the Winnebago Methodist Church. While in high school Mary played violin in the orchestra, and took 2 years of bookkeeping classes. Those classes served her well, because after her graduation with the class of 1935 she got a job assisting a bookkeeper at the Winnebago Co-op Creamery. They were the first creamery in the state to put in frozen food lockers. They hired a butcher who went out to the farms and butchered a pig or steer for the farmer. They would bring the meat into the creamery where it was cut up, packaged, and then fast frozen and put into the farmer's locker, and each farmer had his own key. This was in the days before every household had its own freezer.
Mary met Russell Nelson of Amboy at the 4th of July celebration at the Faribault County Fairgrounds in Blue Earth soon after graduation. They were united in marriage April 16, 1938, and to this union 2 sons, James and Norbert, were born as they began their lives together in Guckeen, MN. The family moved to new Ulm in 1941, and their son, Ronald, was born. In 1958 the family moved to Wells where Russ was a produce manager for Jim's Red Owl. In the spring of 1959 Mary took over the bookkeeping duties of the Lincoln Co-op Creamery and was there until it closed in 1969. She then became an assistant to Mildred Hanson at the Wells Public Utilities and took over when Mildred retired in 1976. She worked until 1981 when she retired to be at home with her husband who had recently had a stroke. He passed away in 1987, and Mary continued to live in the family home.
Mary was a member of the United Methodist Church, where she was active in the UMW, served as treasurer, and as a sales representative, and loved to arrange flowers at the church. She served as president of the Hospital Auxiliary until it became necessary to disband it after the hospital in Wells shut its doors. She loved her family, and enjoyed traveling with her husband, and later with her sister Marjorie Bartholomew. They visited every state and all the provinces of Canada. Mary and her sister had also visited every Presidential Library. While at the George H.W. Bush's Library in College Station, TX, she was pleased to meet and have her picture taken with President Bush who was visiting at the time.
Mary is preceded in death by her parents; husband, Russell; 2 sons: Norbert and Ronald; daughter-in-law, Sharon Nelson; grandson, Garth Nelson, granddaughter, Kellie Nelson; 2 brothers: Donald and Roy Chaffee; and 2 sisters: Dorothy Nickelson and Marjorie Bartholomew.
She is survived by her son: James (wife LeAnna) Nelson of Minnesota Lake, MN, and daughter-in-law: Suzanne Nelson of Laughlin, NV; 5 grandchildren: Marla (Bret) Hueper of Eden Prairie, MN; Clint (Lisa) Nelson of Derby, KS; Kristine Noble of Sterling, IL, Kandice (Jeff) Thygenson of Burnsville, MN; and Paige (Ian) Smith of Bancroft, Ontario, Canada; 8 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great grandson, Pierce Nelson and a sister-in-law: Margaret "Margie" Nelson of Cameron, WI.