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Grace Nelson

grace nelson
Grace Nelson age 86 of Fredericksburg, IA, died Thursday, January 20, 2022, at Hillcrest Home in Sumner, IA. A remembrance gathering will be held this summer. Grace Nelson completed her life’s journey on January 20, 2022. Grace was born on March 1, 1935, in Fredericksburg, Iowa. She was the fourth of six children of William Clair Upham and Florence (Jaehrling) Upham. She would call Fredericksburg her home the rest of her life. Grace graduated Salutatorian of her High School class. She was a star basketball player known for her left-handed hook shot. Grace had many high-scoring games, 56 points was her highest scoring game. Her scoring records stood for decades. Grace was a waitress at the Modern Cafe, her family’s restaurant on Main Street in Fredericksburg. Grace met Gene Nelson when he moved to Fredericksburg in 1952. They were married on November 11, 1956, and were married for 56 years. To this union were born a son, Keith, and a daughter, Lynn. Gene and Grace moved to their home on Plum Street in 1958. Their home overlooked several beautiful flower gardens in their backyard and the Fredericksburg City Park. Grace thoroughly enjoyed this view for over 60 years. Grace was a teacher for her entire career. She attended Iowa State Teachers College where she earned a teaching certificate. Grace’s first teaching job was in Garnavillo, Iowa in 1955. Grace then taught at a Fredericksburg country school and was a substitute teacher in Fredericksburg. Following a couple of years away from teaching, she earned her Education degree from the University of Northern Iowa. Grace was then a long-time Jr. High Math teacher and later taught 4th grade prior to retiring. Extremely active in the community, Grace was a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church, Home Study Club, and served as a dedicated volunteer for various organizations and participated on committees in Fredericksburg and Chickasaw County. Grace also served on State of Iowa committees; the highlights were serving on a committee in choosing Iowa state district judges and being involved in the State of Iowa Landscape Architectural board. She enjoyed entertaining; hosting her yearly Christmas coffee, neighborhood coffees, the Bridge clubs, and inviting friends over for a cup of coffee and conversation. Grace had a flair for planning for her social events by coordinating the place settings, flowers and choosing which decorative napkins fit the occasion. Gene, Grace, and their children traveled the United States widely, visiting 47 states. Gene and Grace visited the remaining three states, 82 countries, and all 7 continents. They related stories of their travels to audiences at schools and other organizations. Following their travels around the world, they spent many winters in Arizona. Survivors include daughter Lynn, St. Louis Park, MN; son Keith (Lori) Nelson, who lives in Mesa, AZ. Grandchildren Dr. Sandra Nelson, Brighton, England, and Zachary Nelson, in Phoenix AZ and sisters Carol Steege and Joan Cochran. She was preceded in death by her parents, William Clair and Florence, husband, Gene in 2013; sisters Joyce Rausch and Marilyn Moldenhauer, and brother Jerry Upham. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to Fredericksburg Community Foundation fund (Please send checks to Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa 3117 Greenhill Circle, Cedar Falls, IA 50613), or St. Croix Hospice at 302 N Grand Ave Ste 5 Charles City, IA 50616. Correspondence: 3625 Gettysburg Ave S. #52 St. Louis Park, MN 55426

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Memories Timeline


  1. My sincere sympathies to her family. I was a para in her room when she taught 4th grade. I really enjoyed my time with her and remained friends afterwards. Grace and Gene taught me alot and I will miss her. DeeDee Sternat

  2. Loved her and her stories, great teacher too. Healing prayers and hugs for remembering the great memories!!

  3. Grace was one of the best. She, and Gene were world travelers with the best stories to tell. She was an amazing school teacher but my favorite thing about her was her being a fantastic neighbor and friend to my grandmother. Such a caring and sweet individual, with a laugh you couldn’t help but join in with. Thank you for the memories Grace, you will be missed.

  4. Grace was a tremendous teacher, always with so much enthusiasm for her job and love for her students. She was also a very special friend with a wonderful sense of humor. My deepest sympathy to Lynn and Keith.

  5. So sorry to hear this. I will never forget Mrs. Nelson’s kindness to me in junior high. She was one of the best. ❤

  6. My sympathy to Lynn and Keith. 🙏 I was so lucky to have her as a teacher AND the opportunity to teach with her too! 🌹❤️.

  7. Mrs. Nelson was always so wonderful to me and at a time when I really needed her strength and support in junior high as her student. So sorry to her family and friends for their loss. She was a wonderful lady!!

  8. Thinking of you all and sending our sympathies to each of you. Mrs. Nelson was one of those teachers that held FHS together. She was a great teacher to so many students. She will be missed by so many family, friends, church members, and community members. She was one of a kind!!!

  9. My heartfelt sympathies to Lynn and Keith. Grace was such a kind, humorous, wonderful friend! Loved hearing all her jokes when we had our 3 to 4 hour lunches. She will be truly missed by so many! 🙏❤

  10. We send our sincere condolences to the Nelson family. Our children enjoyed her as their teacher. Once in a while we hear them talk about their elementary days. One of the best.

  11. Our condolences to Lynn and Keith at the earthly death of your dear Mother. Always enjoyed her knowledge and great sense of humor. I can only imagine her and Gene’s joy at being together again. God’s blessing to you ❤️✝️

  12. My condolences to Lynn and Keith and her family and Grace is good teacher i ever had and she is kind and loving person and i had her in 5th grade and she be missed

  13. Sincerest condolences to Lynn and Keith. She was always Mrs. Nelson to me! May you find comfort and peace in your memories.

  14. Sending prayers for strength during this difficult time to Lynn,Keith, and the rest of Grace’s family. She was a special person. Thanks Grace for making my heart smile remembering all the crazy times and laughs we shared playing bridge and being at the golf course. You will be missed.


  16. Lynn and Keith, Some times there just aren’t words enough to express how sorry a person is. This is one of those times. I will miss that lady so much and all the crazy times we shared. Love and sympathy to you and the rest of the family.

  17. Lynn and Keith so sorry for your loss. We enjoyed living next to your parents for over 50 years. You couldn’t ask for better neighbors. Prayers for comfort for all your family, Craig & Connie Wenthe

  18. I feel so fortunate to have had Grace as an aunt. She was always interested in me and our family. I loved talking to her and laughing with her. She continued to be upbeat and have that quick wit so typical of Grace even as she was losing her memory. She will be missed.

  19. Grace was an avid reader, an independent thinker and engaging conversationalist. She was more than a sister-in-law to me she was a dear friend. I always looked forward to our times together. Norma

  20. Gene and Grace saw the beauty in nature and shared it with so many through their many travels and love of nature with their gardens. I have many memories of RAGBRAI which Gene rode on and the gruop rides that started and ended at their home. We so enjoyed the tours of their beautiful gardens and their gardening tips! Grace was the best hostess. They both will be missed. Love and heartfelt sympathy, Claire and Carol Schnor

  21. Lynn, I lived for a couple of years just north of Fredericksburg, move away in 1950, but became reaquainted with your mom and dad when serving as a rural mail carrier in the late 1980’s. Always a pleasure to visit with them and view the magnificent back yard. Your mom shared details about a book called A cup of Christmas Tea, and a couple of books following that. We did stop and visit with her at Cobblestone last fall. Every visit was such a pleasure. I don’t know the connection, but my sister Karolyn was married to Thomas Upham from New Hampton. Perhaps you were a cousin, he passed last year at the age of 82. God be with you.

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