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The Northwoods River News | Rhinelander, Wisconsin

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October 16, 2018

7/26/2018 7:30:00 AM
Rose Marie Nelson

Rose Marie Nelson, (nee Peper) passed away peacefully on Monday evening, July 23, 2018 at the age of 85. The visitation for Rose will be held on Friday evening, July 27, 2018, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Hildebrand Funeral Home. A second visitation will take place on Saturday, July, 28, 2018 at First United Methodist Church of Rhinelander, located at 724 Arbutus Street from 3 p.m. until the 4 p.m. funeral service. Rev. Mark Gilbert will be officiating.

Rose was born to John G. and Linea T. (Holmberg) Peper in Centuria, Wis., on Monday, May 1, 1933 on the Peper family farm. She was a sister to Charles and Loren Peper. She was preceded in death by her parents, brothers, husband, Oscar K. Nelson, and one son, John O. Nelson. She lived on the family farm until she graduated from Centuria High School in 1951. Rose then attended Stout State Institute (now UW Stout), to complete her degree in Home Economics in 1955. She and her college roommates and friends formed a "Round Robin" letter between them that continues to be written by the surviving friends to this day, spanning over 60 years. While in high school, Rose met Oscar Nelson of Dousman. He was a student at River Falls and was about to graduate with his degree in Agriculture Science. Following his graduation in 1951, he was drafted into the U.S. Marine Corps and served our country for four years on Treasure Island, California while his sweetheart, Rosey Peper, was attending college in Menomonie. Wedding bells rang on June 11, 1955. Rose, an expert seamstress, made the dresses of her attendants as well as her own wedding dress. The couple were wed at the Fristad Lutheran Church in Centuria in a candlelight wedding service which took place to accommodate the schedule of the farming community. Following the wedding, a dinner was held in their honor at the Peper family home. Rose and Keith Nelson lived in Elkhorn and Madison, while they continued their search for their desired career opportunities. When Keith was hired as University of Wisconsin Extension Agent (4-H Youth Agent) for Wood County, the couple settled into life in Wisconsin Rapids. This is the community where their six children were born and where their professional lives and volunteer spirits grew. Rose and Keith participated in work activities such as 4-H Club Congress, taking delegations of 4-H members to Washington D.C. and participating as judges at various county fairs around the State of Wisconsin during the summertime. While Rose was considered a homemaker, she also volunteered in the classrooms of her children, participated in clubs such as the Newcomers Club and in the Jaycees/Jacettes Clubs and taught night-school classes at Mid-State Technical Institute, all in Wisconsin Rapids. She and Keith were also faithful members of the Wisconsin Rapids United Methodist Church. While their family grew their family activities also changed. In 1965 they began a tradition of camping. At first the trips were staged in Wisconsin and later included the Rocky Mountains, Glacier National Park and the Eastern United States. In 1970 Rose and Keith moved their family to Rhinelander. An advancement was offered to Keith to serve four counties in the Northwoods as 4-H Youth Agent. New opportunities became available to Rose, which she eagerly pursued. In 1970 the couple settled their family into new schools in Rhinelander and began new professional and volunteer positions. They joined First United Methodist Church of Rhinelander and served as teachers and on various committees. Their most proud accomplishment was to work with a committee that remodeled the church so that it would be ADA compliant and more accessible for all members. Rose began to teach for Nicolet College and started her master's degree at UW-Stout, completing it in 1974. She then accepted the position as Director of Research and Development with Nicolet College.

New programs were researched by Rose, often the massive amounts of work would be completed between the hours of 4 and 7 a.m. at her dining room table. Both Rose and Keith were instrumental in bringing the Rhinelander School of the Arts to the community and they nurtured the annual event with their planning and volunteer efforts. Rose was proud of her membership and leadership in various organizations such as, Delta Kappa Gamma-Alpha Nu Chapter, Rhinelander Woman's Club, her Book Club, Bridge Clubs, the Nicolet College Choraliers and the Nicolet College Foundation. She was a co-founder of Learning in Retirement at Nicolet College. Rose also gave generously to the YMCA of the Northwoods to help make a place for healthy families a reality in the Rhinelander community. Family was very important to Rose. She thrived on being involved with all of her family and was considered the organizer of most of the family activities and traditions. Her cooking and baking skills were always appreciated by the guests in her home. She valued traveling to visit extended family and did so during all seasons of the year.

On July 30, 2016 Rose left her home to reside at Milestone Senior Living in Rhinelander. She needed full-time care for her memory loss. Prior to leaving her home she had the help of her family as well as Senior Hearts caregivers. Rose was always thankful for the support she received so she could continue to live in her home and for the support she received at Milestone Senior Living and from the Ascension Home Care Hospice providers. Rose Nelson is survived by her children Linda (Alan) Sumwalt of Dousman, Thomas Nelson of Rhinelander, David Nelson and Melody Shaltis of Rhinelander, Nola Nelson of Milwaukee, Gerald (Vicki) Nelson of Rhinelander and daughter-in-law Nancy Nelson of Benton Harbor, Michigan. Also surviving are her dear grandchildren Steven (Lauren) Nelson of St. Joseph, Mich., Michael (Maria) Nelson of St. Joseph, Mich., Nelson Deveraux of Minneapolis, Minn., Andrew Sumwalt of Grand Rapids, Mich., Dedra Deveraux of Milwaukee, Maxwell Deveraux of Milwaukee, Alexis Nelson of Rhinelander and Kaylee Ohm and son Daxton Ohm of Rhinelander and by one great-grandson Owen Nelson of St. Joseph, Mich. In addition to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchild, Rose is further survived by sisters-in-law Francis Wohlwend of Stillwater, Minn., Janet (Wallace) Hermann of Plymouth, and Ella (Gene) Peper of Balsam Lake, as well as dear cousins, nieces, nephews, grand-nieces, grand-nephews and other relatives and friends.

Memorial contributions in honor of Rose may be given to First United Methodist Church of Rhinelander, the Personal Essentials Pantry for Rhinelander or to other organizations of your preference.

Hildebrand Funeral Home & Cremation Specialists, 24 E. Davenport Street, Rhinelander, Wisconsin 54501, 715-365-4343. You may light a candle, sign the guestbook or leave a photo or an online condolence at

Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, July 29, 2018
Article comment by: Dawn J Roesler

Rose was an amazing, talented, wonderful person. She and her late husband gave so much to this community and I feel blessed to have known them both! She will be dearly missed...

Posted: Saturday, July 28, 2018
Article comment by: David Fischer

I met Mary along time ago and she was the most wonderful friend to know and I will miss her too. I have lived in the neighborhood for 32 years by the church.Where I have met Mary and her friendship.To her family and friends who know her my sympathy goes out.

Posted: Saturday, July 28, 2018
Article comment by: Phi Boriff

Rose is in my thoughts forever. Thinking of you, Tom, and thankful for all you did for your mother.

Posted: Thursday, July 26, 2018
Article comment by: Judy Lehman

What a beautiful tribute to a woman with a community spirit and a heart of gold. I'm sorry to hear of Rose's passing, and so glad to have crossed paths with her she touched many lives, and I consider myself a better person for having had that opportunity. My sincerest condolences and gratitude.

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