Herschel Ray Nelson, age 71, of Cambridge, died Oct. 25 at Veteran’s Administration Medical Center, Minneapolis, after a courageous 22-month battle against cancer.
He was born April 30, 1941, in Fort Worth, Texas, to N.J. and Frances Nelson. Seven months later, Dec. 7, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, so the early years of his life were in the context of a nation at war. Herschel graduated from high school in 1959 and enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1961. Though the nation experienced the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba during his service period and Herschel was trained in demolition explosives, he was not called to the battlefield. He served his country as a cook for fellow service members at Ft. Hood and Ft. Griffin in Texas. He was honorably discharged in 1967.
Herschel married Mary Bragg in 1961. They had two children, Troy and Selena.
They later divorced.
In 1967, Herschel married Toni Kons. Two children were born to this union: Keith and Stephanie.
Herschel was employed in Texas when the company transferred him to Minneapolis. He had driving jobs for many years, his favorite as an over-the-road driver for Jefferson Bus Company. He enjoyed exploring the country and sometimes being able to take family members on these trips. A recent job was as a greeter at Wal-Mart, where his warm smile welcomed many.
In 1994, Herschel attended the Promise Keepers Men’s Conference in Colorado Springs, Colo. He became so enthused about this ministry that he continued organizing local men and driving busses and vanloads to Promise Keepers’ conferences in various locales for many years, including the million-man mall event in Washington, DC. Many men accepted Christ as their Savior and their homes were changed because of Herschel’s faithfulness in this ministry. He also developed a relationship with an African-American church in Kansas City, which he visited numerous times. With his family, he helped form Selah House ministry, a family-based group home for women in recovery from alcohol and drug abuse. He regularly took clients to support meetings and to services at his church, Abundant Life, North Branch, Minn. He had also been a long-time member of Lakeside Christian Church, Cambridge, Minn.
Herschel loved woodworking and made many plaques with Christian messages and other hand carved articles.
Herschel is survived by his wife of 44 years, Toni; children: Troy (Kristi) of Stacy, Minn., Selena (Daniel) Running of Stillwater, Minn., Keith (Myrna) of Badger, Minn.; and Stephanie (Jeremy) Anderson of Cambridge; grandchildren: Jeremy and Brittany Nelson; Andrew Running; Ryan, Heather and Kyle Nelson; Raelyn, Courtney, Kendall and Lydia Anderson; other family and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, and his brother, Louis.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m., Sun., Nov. 11, at Abundant Life Church, North Branch; visitation at 2 p.m. Pastors Kevin Haseltine, Abundant Life, and Steve Newton, Lakeside, will officiate. Interment will be at Fort Snelling National Cemetery Apr. 30, 2013. Arrangements were handled by Cremation Society of Minnesota.