Karen Claire Nielsen, 73, of Willmar, died Wednesday, November 21, at Bethesda Grand in Willmar. Her memorial service will be held at 11:00 AM on Friday, November 30, at Calvary Lutheran Church in Willmar. A visitation will be held from 5:00 pm to 7:00 PM on Thursday, November 29, at Peterson Brothers Funeral Home in Willmar; and continue one hour prior to the service at the church on Friday. Burial will take place at Eagle Lake Lutheran Cemetery on a later date. Arrangements are with Peterson Brothers Funeral Home in Willmar.
Karen was born April 19, 1945, in Willmar, the daughter of Newell and Eunice (Tovaas) Nielsen. Karen grew up in Willmar, and went on to graduate from Willmar High School with the Class of 1963. After graduation, Karen entered the work force and began a lifelong career in secretarial work and bookkeeping. She worked at the Kandiyohi County Electrical Co-op. Then she spent the majority of her working years as a bookkeeper at Corneil Elkjer Insurance Agency. After leaving the Insurance Agency, Karen worked in the office at the Kandi Entertainment Center. Following a strong desire to stay busy, Karen refused to "officially" retire, and continued to volunteer at various jobs for the Experienced Works Program, until her failing health forced her to retire earlier this year. Karen maintained a strong work ethic and truly loved meeting all types of people and serving the public. She often shared fond memories of the people that she met during her working years.
Even though she never had any children of her own, Karen played a major role in helping to raise her beloved nieces and nephews. Being a generous caregiver, her home was always a welcome place and sanctuary for many. Karen loved to bake, and always had treats ready for any friends or relatives that would stop by to visit. Her door was always open. She was always the first person to start the endless tasks of making multiple holiday treats and family recipes each Christmas. Karen loved cats, and was a caring mother to her four-legged fur babies. Having a lifelong love of music, Karen became a talented pianist, and served as organist at her home church, Eagle Lake Lutheran Church in Willmar. She was an avid bowler and belonged to numerous bowling leagues. In her free time, Karen enjoyed sewing, knitting, and crocheting. She took great pride in crocheting a blanket for each niece and nephew on their graduation day. Karen was an loyal Twins fan, and enjoyed countless hours watching the games on TV.
After a valiant fight through a lengthy illness, Karen passed away at age 73. She is survived by her brothers: Elery (Donna) Nielsen of Sunburg, and Daryl Nielsen of Willmar; sister: JoNell (Randy) Hanson of Willmar; her nieces and nephews: Melissa (David) Frieze, Shannin Nielsen, Mitch Nielsen, Matt Ransford, Jeanna Wacker (Anktan Patal), Kirbi (Nick) Huls, Jordan (Brandon) Gilb, Cory Hanson and Matt Hanson; many great-nieces and great-nephews; aunt: Carol Nielsen; numerous cousins; and several dear friends.
Karen was preceded in death by her grandparents; her parents: Newell and Eunice Nielsen; her nephew: Troy Nielsen; her maternal aunts and uncles; and paternal uncle, Kenneth Nielsen.