Cover photo for Margaret "Margie" Nelsen's Obituary
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Margaret "Margie" Nelsen

March 2, 1942 — February 22, 2023

St. Peter, MN

Margaret "Margie" Nelsen

Margaret "Margie" Rossow Nelsen, age 80, social worker, dedicated community servant leader, and a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and sister died on February 22, 2023, after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. Margie was born on March 2, 1942 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She graduated from Washington High School in Sioux Falls, earned her B.A. degree from the University of South Dakota and her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Iowa.  Her career in social work began with personal counseling agencies in Iowa and South Dakota, including in Sioux Falls with the V.A. Hospital and Lutheran Social Services.  

She met her husband Bill in Sioux Falls, soon after she became the first woman in South Dakota to be allowed to adopt a child as a single woman. 

Margie and Bill married in 1981 and created a blended family with three growing children.  She played a prominent role at Augustana University (where Bill was serving as president), giving leadership to the creation of the Augustana Library Associates, an organization that remains a vibrant part of the university after 40 years.  Margie and Bill moved to St. Peter, Minnesota in 1987.  Her social work career continued as a therapist at Sioux Trails Mental Health Center, a Director of St. Peter Counseling Center, one of the founders of Counseling Services of Southern Minnesota, and Operational Director of Lutheran Social Services’ regional office in Mankato. Following retirement from social work, she became deeply involved in service to the St. Peter community.  The list of her servant leadership is amazing:  Director of the Healthy Community Alliance, Manager of the St. Peter Arts Center, member of the St. Peter City Council, volunteer with Trinity Lutheran Church, including a time as President of the Church Council, President (and other offices) of P.E.O. philanthropic educational organization, Rivers Edge Hospital Commission, including five years as Chair, the Nicollet County Extension Board, Nicollet County Master Gardeners (reflecting her love of gardening), Women Celebrating Women Committee, an Election Judge, and President (and other offices) of St. Peter Friends of the Library Board.  In recognition of this remarkable record of community service, she received the 2022 Women Celebrating Women Award.  She was acknowledged as a “leader wherever she landed,” a person who “never expected praise,” but always worked hard to “get things done.”

Margie was also a loving and caring wife, mother, and grandmother.  She was a full partner with Bill in his higher education, pastoral service, and in their love of travel, a supporting mother to their three children in their education and career development, and a loving grandmother to their grandchildren as they have continued to grow and learn.  Her love of family is reflected in her authoring two published children’s books.  She was a person of abiding faith in her trust of the promises of God and her love of service to others.

Margie was preceded in death by her father Benjamin Rossow, her mother Ruth Erickson Rossow, and a little sister Ellen. She is survived by her husband William (Bill) Nelsen, children Bill Nelsen (Nancy) of Newton, MA, Shawna Nelsen-Wills (Stephen) of Apple Valley, MN, and Sarah Nelsen of St. Peter; grandchildren William, Imani, Alaiyah, Isaiah, Isla, Willem, and Cameron; sisters Lois Gellerman and Eileen Rossow, a niece, nephews, and many friends.

A memorial service will be held at Trinity Lutheran Church, St. Peter, MN on Saturday, March 25 at 11:00 a.m., with Rev. Dee Pederson, Bishop of the SW MN Synod, ELCA presiding; visitation at the church on Friday, March 24 from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.; and a service with burial in Sioux Falls later this spring.  The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made in Margie’s honor in St. Peter to Trinity Lutheran Church or to the Friends of the St. Peter Public Library; and in Sioux Falls to the Library Associates of Augustana University or to the Margaret Rossow Nelsen Endowed Scholarship at the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation (for Washington High School graduates pursuing careers in human services).  Condolences for the family can be left at



The live stream link below is a complimentary service provided by Mankato Area Funeral Homes.

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Friday, March 24, 2023

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Memorial Service

Saturday, March 25, 2023

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