Cover photo for Harlen Nelson's Obituary
Harlen Nelson Profile Photo
1932 Harlen 2022

Harlen Nelson

April 11, 1932 — December 12, 2022

Ortonville, MN

Harlen Nelson, age 90, of Ortonville, MN, passed away Monday, December 12, 2022, Fairway View Nursing Home in Ortonville.

Memorial services will be held on Tuesday, December 27, 2022, at 11:00 a.m. at Living Word Lutheran Church in Milbank, SD. Visitation will be held on Tuesday from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the church. Rev. Melanie Reiners will officiate the service and inurnment will take place at Mound Cemetery in Ortonville at a later date.

The service will be livestreamed and recorded and will be viewable on the bottom of this page.

Harlen Gene Nelson was born on April 11, 1932, to Hans and Esther Nelson in Minnesota Falls Township of Yellow Medicine County, MN. He was confirmed on May 30, 1948. He attended school through the eighth grade. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1953 and did his basic training at Camp Pendleton. He served in the Korean Conflict and was honorably discharged in 1955.

Harlen met the love of his life, Karen Morrill, on a blind date in 1957 and he was smitten. The two were united in marriage on November 9, 1957, at Elim Lutheran Church in Clinton, MN. To this union, they were blessed with six children: Teresa, Susan, Brent, Bradley, Bryan, and Patricia.

Harlen lived most of his life in the Ortonville Area. He worked a variety of jobs over the years. To name a few, he worked at Hunter Granite, City of Ortonville, Rausch Brothers, was a farmer, and an Ortonville School bus driver for more than 35 years. He retired as a bus driver at the age of 80. He farmed with Karen east of Ortonville beginning in the early 1970s for about 20 years. Together, they farmed several acres of land, raised pigs and chickens, and had many dogs and cats on the farm over the years.

Harlen played men’s softball in Big Stone City, SD, in his younger years and enjoyed dirt track car racing in Milbank, SD. His children and grandchildren were his pride and joy and he loved all of them dearly. He spent many hours hitting and catching ball with his kids and watching or hearing about all their family activities. You would often catch Harlen whistling and singing at all times of the day, and the sound was sure to put a smile on your face. He loved fishing and hunting, especially pheasant hunting. Besides playing cards and Cribbage, his real passion was gardening. He had several huge vegetable and flower gardens! He enjoyed showing and talking about his gardens to others. He shared everything he grew.

Harlen is survived by his children, Terie (Tom) Dorry of Ortonville, MN; Sue (Terry) Trelstad of Rochester, MN; Brent (Lori) Nelson of Ortonville, MN; Brad (Sara) Nelson of Milbank, SD; Bryan (Tammy) Nelson of Brookings, SD; and Patty (Joe) Ebnet of Cottonwood, MN; 29 grandchildren: Megan, Micah (Rebecca), Jared, Reilly (fiancé, Joleigh), Denise (Ron), Mindy (Robert), Dante (Josh), Seth, Candice (Chuck), Amanda (Alan), Angela (significant other, Matt), Matthew (Sadie), Ashley, Julia (Riley), Joseph (fiancé, Shara), Nicole (Nick), Isaac, Raquel, Benjamin, Amy, Victoria, James, Shelby (Alex), Joshua (Tehra), Brandon (Lindsey), Justin, Allyson, Mallory, and Kassidy; 39 great-grandchildren (soon to be 40); 2 great-great-grandchildren; brother, Glenn (Joanne) Nelson of Ortonville, MN; sister-in-law, Marianne Morrill of Ortonville, MN; brother-in-law, Roger (Marlene) Morrill of Redmond, WA; along with many nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.

Preceded in death by his loving wife of 56 years, Karen; his parents, Hans and Esther Nelson; brothers: Richard Nelson, and Maynard Nelson (both died in WWII); sisters and their spouses: Virginia and Fay Elvecrog, and Janet and Marvin Swenson; parents-in-law, Cecil and Agnes Morrill; brothers-in-law: Richard (Betty) Morrill, Donald Morrill, Leonard (Joan) Morrill, and Frank Morrill; and sister-in-law, Sylvia Morrill.

Blessed be the memory of Harlen Nelson.

Nelson, Harlen Folder.pdf

Service Schedule

Past Services


Tuesday, December 27, 2022

9:00am - 7:00pm (Central time)

Living Word Lutheran Church

1303 E 4th Ave, Milbank, SD 57252

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Memorial Service

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

11:00am - 12:00pm (Central time)

Living Word Lutheran Church

1303 E 4th Ave, Milbank, SD 57252

Get Directions

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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