Madison - Nels W. Nelson, age 62, died Sunday April 1st, 2012 in his home on the east side of Madison. He was born on the 17th of April, 1949 to Selmer and Bernice Nelson in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. Nels was raised on a dairy farm in Melrose Wisconsin and graduated from Melrose-Mindoro High School. After attending the University of La Crosse, he bought Mildred's Sandwich Shop on Madison's east side, which he owned and operated until his time of death. He was a peaceful and loving man who enjoyed gardening, cooking, hunting, good music and spending time with family. In addition to tenderly caring for his daughters, Nels always had cats to whom he devoted extraordinary attention. Nels taught himself to play guitar and played in a local band called Medicine Hat for some years, and has always loved music of all kinds. He was an advocate of peace and honesty, with a strong sense of community and a pension towards traveling, especially with his daughters. His patrons, friends and family know him as an honest, gentle, hard-working and kind man with a good sense of humor. Nels is survived by his two daughters, Emma Weise and Audrey Weise-Nelson, his brother Donald (Teresa) and sister, Dianne, and many loved nieces and nephews, as well as a large extended family. Nels is preceded in death by his parents Bernice and Selmer Nelson.
A Memorial Gathering will be held at CRESS FUNERAL HOME, 3325 E. Washington Avenue, Madison, in his honor on Friday, April 6, 2012 from 4:30 until 6:30 p. m. with memorial speakers from 5:30 to 6:30 p. m.
There will be an additional Memorial Service on Sat. April 14, 2012 at 1:00 PM at North Beaver Creek Lutheran Church, W11275 County Rd C, Ettrick, WI 54627.
I have driven past the shop in the past couple of months at various times and thought, "Huh? Did Nels finally sell it?" Never did I imagine that he might have passed away. I just didn't seem possible. He has always been such a steady fixture on Johnson St. When I saw Mildred's was open today, I stopped in to say "hi" and saw a wilting flower bouquet with condolences in one of the booths and burst into tears. I didn't realize until then just how much his presence on this earth meant to me. I can't say I knew him well...but I knew him well enough to know he was a dear, sweet soul. My sincere sympathy to his family, especially his daughters - and thank you to his sister, who happened to be there today, going over the books, and who comforted me as I cried. Much love to all of you.
I worked at Mildred's back in the late 80's when I was going to college. Nels was such a sweet and solid soul. I loved stopping in to give him a hug and hear about his beautiful daughters. You nourished so many in so many ways. peace and love.
I just found out of Nels passing. I would stop in a get a sandwich and we would talk about polictics. The place won't be the same without him in the kitchen. I'm glad to hear his sister is keeping Mildreds open.
We are so so sorry to hear that Nels is gone. The last time we saw him he talked about his daughters and, looking at my 11 year old girl, said "It goes by so fast but it's really fun when they are older, too." I am so grateful for that last conversation, he was understanding of my nostalgia for the toddler days and also optimistic and encouraging that it'll be great fun in the future. We will always remember Nels, always try to (poorly) copy his sandwiches, and we wish his memory to be a blessing to you his family. We will return to Mildred's and toast him in these next weeks. Peace.
I met Nels in 1970. A nordic God with no attitude back then. My room mate went home to the farm with him one weekend and came back with this hilarious story about the two of them helping a cow give birth. He had a ready smile and acceptance and you did feel calm and peaceful around him. Safe journey Nels, you have all the answers now. Zana
Nels was stunning. The first time I saw him I melted. Coming from New York, it was hard for me to grasp that this big beautiful man could be as loving and gentle as he was. We lived together in LaCrosse for several years, they were amazing sensuous times of personal growth for which I will always be indebted to him. With abundant gratitude and sorrow for his early departure I offer my condolences to his daughters, family and friends. Donna DeMatteo
Way too soon, Nels. So glad you were one of the bridal party at our wedding.We made many a great meal together in your Madtown kitchen on Evergreen. I loved that ginger beer you made... Thanks for being you, creating more laughter, love and light in the world. Fond, fond memories in Melrose, too. Glad we spoke last year, as it had been a while. Blessings and love, my Gentle-Spirited friend ~ from San Francisco
OMG. We just went to Mildred's to enjoy a sandwich and they were closed. Just found out about Nels. We will totally miss seeing him almost weekly on our sandwich run. He even remembered that I always had a Blystone. Been going to Mildred's since the late 70s. Will miss him and Mildred's greatly.
Just an addition to my previous memory...I could still make a Blystone, a Weaver, and a Ledbetter (among others)...and I do know the recipe for the veggie chili and those delicious mint chocolate chip cookies!
Nels was a great employer and a wonderful man. He hired me to work at Mildred's when I was lost in the strange period between college and grad school, and he hired my sister when she needed a job too. And when my boyfriend and I decided to get married, he allowed us to host the wedding in the newly renovated Mildred's...he was a great guy, and I'll remember him always.
Nellie, as I called him, were neighbors for a good 20 years. I was saddened to hear he is no longer with us. Nels was a great neighbor and friend, always good for a chuckle and generous with ladders, help, and garden advise. We shared lots of neighbor news and weathers some bad neighbor juju over the years. He was always someone I felt I could turn to. All my best to the family.
I graduated with Nels. He was my 1st love. He used to call me Wanda Mae. I don't know where he got that, but it stuck with me. He was always there if you needed him. He made our class fun. I will miss him greatly.
Nels is my cousin, our mothers were idential twins. There was always a strong connection between the cousins because of that; my sisters, Margie and Darlene, and Nels, his sister, Dianne, and brother, Donald. I think we all felt like we had two mothers. I have so many wonderful memories of spending time on the farm during the summers in the early 60's and the grief I'd get from Nels and Donald because I was the "city girl." (Black River Falls) Remembering Nels and Donald singing the current Beach Boys hits and hitting all the high notes, knowing all the words. Remembering how hard and never ending the work was on the farm and Nels wanting to move on and explore the world. Remembering how much he loves his daughters, Emma and Audrey. Remembering conversations with him and his joy of becoming a dad and fear that he wouldn't be a good dad. As Emma and Audrey will tell you, he was the best dad ever! The memories of their wonderful dad will now sustain them on their own journeys through life without his physical present but always in their hearts.
I will miss you very much, cuz, but you will never be forgotten. Love, Patty
My vegetarian friend lived above Mildred's so Nels named his veggie sandwich after him, the Ledbetter. Over the years I looked forward to a Blystone and some banter with Nels. A little piece of me is gone now, my world slightly diminished. My condolences to all.
Nels joined us many a summer at our cabin near Melrose when he knew the Dickinsons were having a reunion. Our precious memory is of the "better mousetrap" prototype he devised for us at the cabin : A device in which the cabin mice would "walk the plank" to try to reach the peanut butter and fall in the bucket. Trips to Wisconsin will not seem the same without the expectation that we might enjoy a visit with Nels. He will be missed by the many lives he touched.
Nels and I were buddies back in the LaCrosse yrs in late 60s He came down to Madison at my urging where i turned him on to a job at the Edgewater Hotel a move that changed his life toward Culinary arts We shared a great love of music and traveled to all the big music fests and really enjoyed the exciting life of Madison culture , cinema , music ,politics and unforgettable fun times A true loyal friend that long distance and many decades never diminished He was my best enduring connection back to Wisconsin and will sorely be missed
I absolutely loved his vegetarian chili ! I offered him 200 dollars for the recipe and he politely refused .. a man of true integrity .
I met Nels at Mildred's some 30+ years ago, and I have been told I was one of his first employees. I worked for him one summer, I think it was 1983. He was a great boss, relaxed, laid back, carefree -- except about the making of the sandwiches. He responded to mistakes with a twinkle in his eye, and humor in his voice. (I swear he was Santa Claus in a prior life.) Once, he complimented me on inventing the Obrerozar, with such good cheer that I didn't realize until later he was pointing out a mistake. We kept in touch over the years, swapping stories about having kids, raising kids, and getting older. Emma and Audrey, we've never met, yet I know how much he loved you. Nels, you were a good man, with a good soul, and yes, despite your death, a great heart.
I played in Medicine Hat with Nels back in the late 70's. Though his main interest was country and western, the band played everything from calypso to rock to whatever somebody came up with, including a few originals. Nels didn't care, as long as the music was flowing, he was too. He had a great voice and a wonderful disposition, always. He will be missed by everyone he knew. Wail on Nels!
I love this image of 70's Nels that I swiped from Audrey (or was it Emma?).
I only knew him from the 10 or so times a year I went to Mildred's for lunch...for the last 15 years. Rarely was he not there. He seemed like a very kind man and will be missed.
I first met Nels when he was a lowly employee of Mildred's. My mom (Ione) and I used to bring him lefse. Through the years we were connected through love of Madison, music, Ledbetters, friends, neighbors, gardens...love of our kids. Nels, a kind dear man, who always had an ear, a smile, the time for me, for many.
I knew Nels for years. I worked with him at the Creperie on State St. 1976. I considered him my friend. He will be missed by me.
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