Virginia Nelson – Manchester

Virginia G. NelsonVirginia Gwendolyn Walker Nelson, 102, a resident of the Meadows in Manchester, Iowa, died on Saturday, December 5, 2015.  She was born August 29, 1913, in Peterson, Iowa, eldest child of Earl and Berniece Walker.  Virginia graduated from Jewell High School in 1931, Salutatorian of her class with a dream of becoming a teacher.  In 1934, she attended Iowa State Teacher’s College for a summer to acquire the teaching certificate required to teach at Lake View, a rural one room school near Jewell.  She was thrilled to be teaching and taught there for three years before her marriage to Elmer Nelson on June 19, 1937.  She became a full-time homemaker and mother in Radcliffe, where her husband owned and operated the Gamble Store.  Virginia cherished her family and friends.  She was active in the Methodist Church Women’s Society and Superintendent of the Sunday School.  She became president of the Parent Teacher’s Association and was active in Eastern Star.

In 1960, the family moved to Manchester.  After substitute teaching she began working on renewing her teaching certificate by taking college courses.  In 1952 she taught 5th,6th,7th, and 8th grades in Masonville.  In 1955 she accepted a position in Greeley, teaching 7th grade for three years until she was recruited to teach 5th grade in Manchester.  In 1964 she completed her bachelor’s degree, graduating with honors from Upper Iowa University.  She continued teaching 5th grade at Lambert School in Manchester until her retirement in 1976.

Virginia thoroughly loved teaching and especially enjoyed ten year olds because, as she said, “They still believed the teacher knows something.  With all the technology today, she wonders when studying a particular topic where the teacher might not be fully aware, would the student “Google” it and inform the teacher.”

Virginia’s Christian faith has always been very important to her.  She was an active member of the Methodist Church and the United Methodist Women throughout her life.  Within the Manchester community she belonged to PEO, the Hospital Auxiliary, Book Hour, and Fort Nightly.  She had a great sense of wit and humor and delighted in laughter and smiles.  Her advice would be, “Do not take life too seriously,  learn to laugh”.  She enjoyed sewing, reading, golf, swimming, e-mailing, and writing, taking pride in her own penmanship and teaching it to her students.  She liked listening to books as her vision declined.  She appreciated poetry and often could quote whole poems or lines of poems from memory.  She and Elmer took several trips and she continued to enjoy travel with her daughter and friends in later years.  She would frequently say, “I have been so blessed.”

Upon retirement, Elmer and Virginia wintered at Valley View Estates in Mission, Texas, and Virginia continued wintering there after Elmer’s death in 1996.
After 33 consecutive winters in Texas she decided, at age 96, to move to the Meadows.

Survivors include daughter, Janet Prehn of Madison Lake, Minnesota; daughter-in-law, Nancy Nelson of the Villages, Florida; four grandsons, Jay, Bruce,  and Timothy Prehn and Erik Nelson; one granddaughter, Kietra Nelson; five great-grandchildren, Julia Jochum, Linnea, Jonathan,  and Karter Prehn and Sawyer Nelson Wesley; one sister, Jeanne Smith of Marshalltown; three nieces and eight nephews; several cousins; and many, many friends.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Elmer; son, Jay; brothers, Grover and Jerry Walker; brother-in-law, Orville Nelson, Roy Nelson, and Wayne Smith; sisters-in-law, Kathryn Nelson, Eileen Nelson, and Florence Walker; and nephews, Mark Walker and Doug Nelson.

Memorials may be directed to the United Methodist Church, UMW,  or the Church Library Fund, Hospice of Comfort, or The Meadows.

Online condolences may be sent to

Celebration of Life Service will be held at the United Methodist Church this summer with details to be announced later.

Inurnment at Oakland Cemetery in Manchester following Celebration of Life Service.