John “Jack” R. Nelson

Macken Funeral Home Memorial Photo
Date of Birth:
Wednesday, February 20, 1935
Date of Death:
Thursday, January 13, 2022
86 years old


The memorial service can be viewed at 11:00am Friday, January 21, 2022 at

Macken Funeral Home Memorial Photo
Date of Birth:
Wednesday, February 20, 1935
Date of Death:
Thursday, January 13, 2022
86 years old
Macken Funeral Home Memorial Photo
Date of Birth:
Wednesday, February 20, 1935
Date of Death:
Thursday, January 13, 2022
86 years old

John “Jack” R. Nelson

John R. “Jack” Nelson

Jack Nelson was born on February 20, 1935, to Donald and Evelyn Nelson, in Tipton, Iowa. On January 13, 2022, Jack’s battle with pneumonia ended, and he entered into blessed rest. Jack graduated from high school in 1953, enlisted in the Iowa National Guard (where he served as a Medical Specialist), and went on to Parsons College in Fairfield, Iowa. In August 1955, Jack married Shirley Jackson, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, a joyful union that produced three children: Rick (K), Pam (Bart) Seebach, and Matt (Kay).

Jack’s career began with the Skelgas company in Tipton, Iowa, continuing into branch management roles in the Iowa towns of Washington, Fairfield, and finally, Decorah. There, he transitioned into a new career in insurance and real estate, managing that facet of business for the Decorah State Bank until his retirement. In 2003, Jack and Shirley relocated to Rochester, Minnesota, and in 2004, moved into the Charter House senior housing. Shortly after their 60th wedding anniversary, Shirley passed away in 2015. Jack found new love with Barbara Henoch, and the two pledged their lifetime commitment before God and family in 2018.

Jack developed an interest in woodworking later in life, delighting his kids with a new creation every Christmas and outfitting grandkids with sturdy rocking horses. He was an accomplished, self-taught singer, joining the Luren Singers men’s group in Decorah and church choirs wherever he lived, and singing heartfelt solos for church services and events that included weddings and funerals for special people in his life.

In addition to his love and dedication to his three children, Jack doted on his seven grandkids and two great-grandkids. The Nelson siblings credit Dad with teaching them to love and serve God, their families and friends, and their churches and communities. Jack was a 50 (plus)-year member of the Masonic Lodge and the Decorah Lions Club. In Rochester, he served energetically at the Ronald McDonald House, as well as within the Charter House community, building friendships throughout the residence. Jack treated friends like gold, valuing every one as if they were the only one.

The Nelson Family thanks the skilled, caring medical staff of the OMC Hospital in Rochester for their loving ministrations during the last week of Jack’s life. A small (COVID-limited) memorial service will be held, followed in the spring by a graveside inurnment and celebration of life at Phelps Cemetery in Decorah, Iowa. A livestream of the memorial service will be available to be viewed at 11:00am Friday, January 21, 2022 at

The family invites all who wish to recognize their affection for Jack to support the Ronald McDonald House of Rochester in his memory (850 Second St SW, Rochester, MN 55902;

Online condolences are welcome at

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The family of John “Jack” R. Nelson has received the following condolences.

Rick, Pam, Matt, Barbara, and families, 

I was so sorry to hear that this very special man has passed. The whole Nelson family is a special part of my years in Decorah, and when I think of Jack, I remember his big smile, beautiful voice, and most especially his warm and generous heart - traits he and Shirley passed on to their entire family. 

Jack had a great impact on all he met, and lives on forever in our hearts.

Gary Nordmoe 

Cincinnati, Ohio 

Rick, Pam, and Matt:

I’m so sorry to hear this news! Your dad was such a loyal and good friend and I have many great memories of spending time together through the years. Our prayers for God’s loving comfort to be with you all as you mourn. Jack was truly one of the greatest people I’ve had the privilege of knowing. Blessings to you and your families.

Love, Jan (Gluth) and Carl King

Stunned to hear this news. So saddened for you all. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you. God bless.

Jack was a great classmate and friend through the years.  We lived on the same block when I started school and thus spent many hours together.  It was always a real pleasure to see Jack at our reunions.  I will miss those days. My sympathy to the family, may he Rest In Peace 

Dear Barb and the Nelson Family,

   Heaven truly is enriched by this awesome guy! And we are enriched because we got to know him. When I first started to visit my parents at Charter House to get used to their "new' home, it was 

tough to know that I would no longer be visiting our home I had grown up in. I would now be visiting them at Charter House. Wouldn't you know, Jack was one of the first residents that greeted me!  His smiles, hugs, warm and welcoming manner made this mental transition for me so easy. And every time my husband and I would go from Colorado to visit my parents there Jack would be there at the Corner Cupboard, with lots of giggles and conversation! Then, when he and Barb visited us in Durango, we spent the most magical day at Primos for lunch, talking and laughing non stop. I'm so grateful for these memories!  Dr. Seuss helped us with his words, "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."  I'm hoping that all of you are smiling a lot through the tears...weren't we so blessed??  Love, Dick and JAne


We are so sad to hear of Jack's passing. 

My Mom was a long-term resident of Charter House, so we got to know Jack on our trips to the Corner Cupboard. What a warm and caring person he is. We were looking forward to seeing Jack again when we join the Charter House family, but memories will keep him with us.




MY heartfelt condolences at Jack's death.  Wishing comfort to you all as you grieve for your Father/Grandfather/Great Grandfather.


The Molumby family

Sending my sympathy to Pastor Pam and all the Nelson family.  We were forever 

grateful that Jack negotiating with our realtor worked out our chance to purchase the home we still enjoy at Meadow View in Decorah. 

We met Jack almost the first day we moved in at Charter House.  He was  eating breakfast and having fun in the Corner Cupboard.  Right away he included us in the group at his table..  As the years have gone by, we have had hundreds of wonderful memories of him and Barbara.  Dave loved playing pool with him and spending time in the woodworking shop. I spent time with him on committees.  Jack was always fun.  We will miss our special friend and all he did for everyone he met.  Jack, we will carry on without you but we know you will be watching from above making sure Barb and Charter House are cared for.  Thank you for the years of happiness you gave us.  


I'm so sorry for the loss of "Jack". I've worked at the front desk of Charter House for the last 15 years & Jack was very much involved with the staff, friends & neighbors. We really are a family at Charter House. I would make the copies for the upcoming Pool Tourments & also all the committees he was involved in, plus the glass case display in the Lobby of our residents precious collections.

It is hard to see somone who is so full of life, leave us too aoon. I truly feel blessed & grateful to have been apart of his life.

With great sadness,

Cheri Hays


Sympathy and prayers to your family in the loss of your father and grandfather.  I remember his sense of humor, smile and the time he took to ask about others.  

I am so sorry to hear of Jack's passing.  We "grew up" together in Tipton.  Even though we did not see each other often in these later years, I will miss him very much.  My sympathy to all of his family.

We are so sorry for the loss of Jack.  We always enjoyed our time with him. He touched so many people in so many ways including us.  He will be greatly missed.  

Our deepest sympathy.  Jack was an outstanding person very kind and personal.  We thoroughly enjoyed Jack and Barb every time they visited our store.  Always a smile on their faces. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.  Scott Peggy Danny Addy and Linda.

John and I have known Jack since 2008 when our mother-in-law, Margaret Engel, was friends with Jack and Shirley.  I started playing for Vespers church service at that time.  Jack was so warm and friendly to everyone around him and John and I enjoyed his friendship all these years.  Our sympathy and prayers go to his family and Barb at his loss, as it is such a loss for her and for all his friends that he has made through the years.  He will be GREATLY missed.  Carol and John Engel    

To Jack's Family:

I am so sorry for your loss.  jack was such a vibrant person and a great addition to our Charter House family.  I will miss him.  I will think of him every time I put a can or a tab in the bin for the Ronald McDonald House.  May God bless all of you as you grieve the loss of your beloved Jack.

Helen Zimmerman




Our deepest sympathies to the Nelson family.   

Our thoughts and prayers are with you all at this time. 

To the Family, Friends and Loved Ones of Jack Nelson,

Extending my deepest condolences to you, Jack will be sorely missed.

I've worked at Charter House for 27 years and have known Jack (and Shirley) since their move in. Jack was the chair of the Resident Dining Services Advisory committee and we worked closely together during his tenure. During that time, my parents took ill and I needed to be away caring for them during their hospice journey. He showed extraordinary kindness to me when I lost my parents and had shared that there wasn't a day that went by that he didn't miss his parents, especially his dad, who he considered his best friend. He was so generous with his support and kindness which meant everything to me during a very difficult time. His words have stayed with me, and I know that he's back with those he missed so dearly. 

I hope you can all take comfort in the loving memories you have with him.

Kathy Wickman

Our sincere sympathy to your family and all who loved Jack! It was an honor to know him and to grow up around the Nelson family in Decorah and later to see Jack in our Rochester Community at the Charter House!  He was such a loving and compassionate man who did so very much good in the community, for his church and his family and friends. His faith, friendship and kindness will not be forgotten and we all certainly will miss his hugs! He made an impact on everyone he met and pushed them to be better stewards to others. Well done, Jack! May God hold you all in his caring hand. 

Jim and Mary (Christianson) Hansen

I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of Jack! My deepest sympathies are with the family!


Rick Jourdan


Our thoughts of sympathy to all Jack's family.  Our memories of Jack are of a good guy.  Always wanting the best for those around him.  May he rest in peace.  Jerry and Elaine Thompson.

Uncle Jack could talk with anybody and you always felt good around him. He was so kind to us, remembering our birthdays with cards and taking us out to eat when traveling near us. A man of God, he so loved and was so proud of his kids and grandkids. We will miss him so very much! Our condolences to all who loved Jack. 

Barb and the Nelson family,

My heart goes out to all of you for the loss of this vibrant gentleman. What an honor to have known him and to call him a friend.  He did so much for so many people.  I will miss his hugs and sense of humor.  May it comfort you to know how much he was loved and respected.  Jack was definitely a outstanding human. God has brought home a truly gracious angel.  
Sue Fisher