Lila Jane Frances Belker Nelson, 84, of Grand Forks, ND passed away Friday, April 21, 2023, in her home surrounded by her family.
Lila Jane was born October 16, 1938, in Fargo, ND to Irene (Grann) Belker of Landa, ND and Alfred William Belker of Quincey, Illinois. She was raised in Fargo and graduated from Fargo Central High School in 1956. Lila Jane was baptized and confirmed at First Lutheran Church in Fargo. After high school, Lila Jane moved to Grand Forks, ND, and attended the University of North Dakota, majoring in Nursing. She later transferred to Mayville State Teachers College and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Art. While in college, she belonged to Lutheran Student Association, Choir, Orchestra, and Girl State where she served as a Senior Counselor.
In 1961, Lila Jane began her teaching career at Viking Elementary School as a kindergarten teacher for four years. She was uniquely gifted as a teacher and musician and spent the last 32 years of her career teaching music at United Day Nursery. She led the children in wonderful musical performances at the Senior Citizens Center, Valley Memorial Home, and the Exchange Club Christmas programs on television for many years.
Lila has spent much of her life volunteering and helping others. She was involved with the Grand Forks Mission Radio, the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, the Parent Teacher Association, and the Picture Lady Program touching many young lives along the way. Lila was actively involved in Euterpe Music Club, Second Act Singers, Beta Sigma Phi, the AI Chapter of PEO, Homemakers, Sewing Club, Retired Teachers Association, Thursday Music Club, and Chairman of the Fine Arts Group. Lila was selected for the Who’s Who in Education. Lila was the local and state president of the American Association of University Women and was elected Grand Forks ‘Women of the Year’ in 1976.
She married Ronald Duane Nelson in 1964. Together they enjoyed attending UND sporting events, singing in choirs, traveling, volunteering, playing games, attending their family’s activities and events, and spending time at the lake. They were the utmost example of love and devotion to marriage and family. They raised three children, Bart, Ruth, and Julie under the faithful ministry of United Lutheran Church, a church that was precious to them and one of Lila’s most treasured affiliations. At the church, she was actively involved by teaching Sunday School as a music teacher, director for two young adult choirs, President of United Lutheran Church Women, and was on the church council and staff support.
She was often seen wearing an apron while she cooked for her family, her neighbors, and many others. She was known as the “best chocolate chip cookie maker” and frequently included her children and grandchildren when baking. Lila stated that all she ever wanted was for her children to know God, be happy, be proud of their hard work and accomplishments, and pass it on to their children.
Lila Jane is survived by her husband of 58 years, Ronald “Duane” Nelson of Grand Forks; children, Bart (Traci) Nelson of Mentor, MN, Ruth Nelson McCutcheon of Grand Forks, Julie (Bill) Borus of Dallas, TX; brother, Larry (Judy) Belker of Grand Forks; eight grandchildren, Katie (Scott) Thompson, Ashley Nelson, William Borus, Charlie McCutcheon, Benjamin Borus, Lily McCutcheon, Jacob Nelson, Samuel Borus; five great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.
Lila was preceded in death by her parents, Alfred and Ruth Belker; stepmother, Elsie Belker; brother, Loren Belker; niece, Cheri Belker and nephew, Leif Belker.
The family would prefer memorials to United Lutheran Church, Mayville State University Music Department, and Christus Rex Campus Center.
Lila Jane’s family wishes to thank the caregivers of Ethos Hospice, Altru Cancer Center, and Dr. Millette.
Memorial Services will be 11:00 a.m. Saturday, April 29, 2023 in United Lutheran Church, Grand Forks with visitation one hour prior to the service in the church. Interment will be in Memorial Park South Cemetery, Grand Forks. Amundson Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.