Orvis Nelson, 87, of rural Homestead, Mont., passed away at the Roosevelt Memorial Nursing Home on Monday, May 18, 2020, in Culbertson, Mont. Fulkerson Stevenson of Williston, N.D., is assisting the family. Friends may sign the on-line register and give their condolences at www.fulkersons.com.
His graveside service was held at 10 a.m. (MST) Saturday, May 23, 2020, at the Big Lake Cemetery, rural Homestead, Mont. Pastor Johnette Grefe officiated. Military rites followed. For those not attending, there will be a celebration of life tentatively set for June 28, 2020, at the family farm. The service was broadcast on the Fulkerson Stevenson Facebook page, please follow the link on Orvis’s service information on our website www.fulkersons.com.
Orvis Nelson was born south of Watford City, N.D., to Eddie and Irene Nelson on Feb. 25, 1933. Just a few months after he was born, the family moved to rural Homestead, Mont., where brother Rudale was born. He attended most of his grade school at Central Consolidated (located near the farm and uphill both ways), graduated high school from Medicine Lake and then attended Concordia College for two years before entering the U.S. Army. He spent two years of active duty during the Korean Conflict and received an honorary discharge in 1953. After the military, Orvis farmed part-time with his father and worked full-time in Williston driving Gamble Robinson’s grocery delivery truck delivering to stores in northeast Montana.
While working in Williston, Orvis met Lois on a blind date which was the start of a lifelong love affair. They were married in June of 1958 and, shortly thereafter, moved home to farm full-time. Lois passed in August of 2019 and Orvis missed her dearly. As he sat beside her during her final hours, he told her he would not be far behind.
He was very proud of his service to this country and once home on the farm for good, he became very active in Legion Post 49 in Homestead. As Post Commander, he organized many trips to the 49th Parallel Days with Canadian Service Men and Women.
Orvis was the “Master Card Party Organizer.” Therefore, there were many card parties and games of cards played, while teaching his children and grandchildren, at various locations.
Being involved in community was very important to him. He served as the chair of the Medicine Lake School board during the time the school was being rebuilt after a fire. He served on the NEMONT Telephone board for 27 years. Other organizations included the Froid Credit Union, Farmers Elevator in Homestead, Northeast Montana Threshers Association and church and parish councils.
Orvis’s desire to give back was evident with the involvement in civic organizations but that wasn’t the only evidence. He would purchase bags of groceries and deliver them to families in need. He organized bus trips to the Medora Musical for the elderly. He was one of the first to offer his land into the Block Management Program which allowed people to hunt for free. He never missed a benefit in the area where he always made some kind of donation, and he would go to the nursing home and give haircuts. Orvis took pride and satisfaction in using his hands to build many beautiful woodworking projects which he donated to various places.
Being a Norwegian is not a privilege everyone gets. He was proud of his heritage and seldom missed the opportunity to attend the Norsk Hostfest in Minot, N.D. He loved Norwegian food and would travel to the ends of the Earth for a lutefisk dinner.
If you had to name what Orvis’s hobby was it would have to be people. The most enjoyable times in his life were sitting across the kitchen table visiting with people. He set up areas on the farm where hunters could camp just so he had someone to visit with. He would chase down hunters in the field just to say hello and welcome them to the area. Many friendships from all over Canada and the U.S. were developed over the years. In later years, Orvis and Lois loved to travel but could not go anywhere without scheduling time on the trip to stop and visit friends and family. In fact, when they traveled, it wasn’t to see a national park or a tourist destination; it was to see old friends and relatives.
Orvis loved music and encouraged his children and grandchildren to learn music. He never missed a concert or music event the kids were in. He also practiced what he preached. He sang in a group called the Homestead Legionnaires. They performed at many area events such as the Faye Crush variety show on area television. They sang at countless funerals and never turned down a request to do so.
Some memorable trips for Orvis included the trips to Moville, Iowa, to sell cattle. For many years, he and Lois accompanied the cattle to the sale yard in Moville. This was an annual event where he and some of his most cherished friends had the opportunity to spend time together.
Many of you will remember the trips in the old school bus. Touring around the lake, trips to Medora or his favorite trip which was fishing in Canada. Orvis organized a fishing trip to Besnard Lake, Saskatchewan, 27 years in a row. He loved to see his children and grandchildren experience camping and catching the big fish. All were welcome, so almost always the kids or grandkids had friends with them on the trip. He touched many lives with this trip.
Orvis was preceded in death by his wife, Lois; parents, Eddie and Irene; and brother, Rudale and wife, Arlene. He is survived by daughter, Kimberly (Rick); sons, Dale (Jodi), Dean (Lynda); grandchildren, Kami (Jeff), Brady (Sarah), Paydon, Cordel and Nolan; and great-grandchildren, Kelson and Kaseton.