Dorothy Nelson. Submitted photo
Dorothy Nelson. Submitted photo

Dorothy Bernice (Reinkey) Nelson was born on July 28, 1923 and died on March 9, 2019 at the age of 95 1/2 years.

She was born at home in Rock Elm Township, the first child of Arnold and Selma. Upon the death of her grandfather Jay, she chose to live at age five with her grandmother Carrie Hawn in Rock Elm “to keep her company”. Grandma Carrie operated a hotel in the then thriving little village. As a child, Dorothy operated the switchboard there, played piano for the Methodist Church and attended the Rock Elm country grade school.

High school meant journeying to Elmwood High School where “Dot” was a cheerleader and Junior prom queen with her king Glenn Nelson, her future husband. Her senior yearbook described her “ full of pep as a bottle of Coke”. This never changed.

Upon graduation in 1941, she attended business college in Eau Claire while also working for Dr. John Wishart. She acquired many skills that would serve her well in future jobs outside her home, on the family farm and for their businesses in Elmwood.

After the war, she and Glenn married on May 25, 1946, a marriage that would last over 70 years. After a time spent in Ellsworth and River Falls, they settled on their farm near Elmwood.

Dorothy worked alongside her husband on the farm, managed their household, raised four children and worked outside of their home as well. She was initially deputy county treasurer and later became the first woman to be elected to a county office in Pierce County in 1974 when she became the County Treasurer. Later she worked as the Register in Probate from 1979-1992 when she retired from that position after 18 years of working in the Pierce County Courthouse. She also was the town clerk for the Village of Spring Lake for 5 years.

Dorothy loved her gardens, feeding her family fresh produce and healthy preserved food in the winter as well as tending to her flowers and rose bushes. She and Glenn were able to take many wonderful trips to Alaska, Canada, Mexico, China, Germany, Norway, the Middle East and many warm months in Panama City Beach.

Music continued to be a large part of her life. She was the organist for the Spring Lake Lutheran Church from 1950-1980. She loved her baby grand piano which she donated to the Village of Elmwood in 2014 when her arthritic fingers would no longer do what she wanted them to do.

Dorothy was active in the Spring Lake Lutheran Church from 1946 until her death. In addition to her position as organist she taught Sunday School, served as an accompanist at many church events and was an active member of the Ladies Aid/Circle until her passing. She was also active in many other community organizations including the American Legion Auxiliary and Pierce County Homemakers.

Life changed when her husband Glenn died in February of 2017. Her loneliness was tempered by the caring staff at Welcome Home Assisted Living, her family and many friends. She remained the focal point of her family and the glue that held them all together. Until her last days she would require a weather report and an update on the “goings on” of her children and grandchildren. The last month of her life she was attentively and compassionately cared for by the staff at the Heritage of Elmwood Nursing Home.

Dorothy was preceded in death by her husband Glenn, her brother John and her parents Arnold and Selma. Also preceding her in death were brothers-in-law Robert Reitz, Galen Nelson, Richard Swanson and Arthur Lamon. sisters-in-law Ruth Swanson, Muriel Nelson and Esther Lamon as well as nieces Kristen Swanson and Roxanne Phillips and nephew Mark Reitz also preceded her in death. She is survived by her children Greg, Carrie, Ann and Arnie and their life partners Vicki, Jan, Dave and Lori; sister Pat Ginsbach and her husband Ralph; sister Mildred Reitz; brother and sister-in-law John and Vera Nelson; as well as many beloved nieces and nephews. She will be sorely missed by her grandchildren: Scott, Chad and Jodi Nelson, Sarah and Matt Siegel, Derek, Tara and Tiffany Nelson and Amos, Kierce and Brynn Hare. Her 12 great- grandchildren also gave her unending joy and laughter.

There will be a visitation at Welcome Home Assisted Living, 1121 Industrial Avenue in Elmwood on Thursday March 14 from 4 p.m.-7:00 p.m. and one hour prior to services at the church on Friday. Funeral services will be at the Spring Lake Lutheran Church on March 15 at 11 a.m. followed by a gathering and lunch at Welcome Home for all who wish to attend. Friends and family might consider wearing some red those days for Dorothy; it was her favorite color.

The family suggests that memorials if desired be given in her name to the Spring Lake Lutheran Church and Welcome Home Assisted Living.

Online condolences may be made at

Rhiel Funeral Home & Cremation Service of Elmwood is caring for Dorothy and her family.