Benjamin Charles Nelson
November 9, 1993 ~ January 8, 2020
Visitation will be 11:30am-1pm, Thursday, January 16, 2020, at First Lutheran Church (300 Maple Street, Valley Springs, SD, with Funeral services at 1pm. A reception to celebrate Ben’s life will be held at the Valley Springs American Legion after the service. Interment to follow at Pleasant View Cemetery, Valley Springs.
Ben was born November 9, 1993 to Dawn and Daniel Johnson in Sioux Falls, SD; in 1997, he was adopted by Thomas Nelson. Ben attended school in Brandon Valley and Tea, graduating from Tea Area High School in 2013. During high school he enjoyed playing music, skateboarding, youth group, hanging out with friends, and playing in the worship band at Falls Church in Sioux Falls. He moved to Arizona shortly after graduation and continued his passion for music and his church, playing guitar in the worship band at Living Word Bible Church. Ben had always thought that serving his country could be his path. He had an instinct to protect, whether it be the United States, college campus, a stranger, family member, or lost animal. Ben was recruited and trained to become a Marine in 2016. After medical testing, he was unable to continue due to asthma. Luckily, the Arizona Department of Corrections needed someone just like Ben. He worked inside a secure facility near Phoenix, as well as continuing in church leadership.
After this point, Ben struggled quite a bit with finding himself. He was trying to make sense of why he was feeling certain ways through his life, and came out as transgender 2017. It was after this, that he lost his job in the church. Ben wasn’t held up on labels as much as the person who someone was. Ben was the same person, whether named Ben or a chosen name of Ashley. Nothing changed in our eyes, but he felt better telling people of the transition that would take place over the years to come. As Ashley, she was trolled and harassed by random people she never even knew. This is very common being transgender, often targeted and attacked. Ben/Ashley was so loved, but when faced with judgment, depression, anxiety, and no way to feel better, this is what happens all too often.
Call to Action: When you have someone in your life that needs a little extra love, send them a quick text or message them randomly, and do it often. Talk to them about your concerns, it may help save their life.
Ben is survived by his parents Dawn Nelson(Gran), Tom Nelson, and Daniel Johnson; sisters Jessica (Kris) Robbins and Emily (Shawn) Kuhnert, both of Brandon; his brother, Zach (Taylor) Nelson and sister, Hailey (Tony) Dvoracek, both of Sioux Falls; his aunt, Sandy (Allen), Valley Springs; his uncle, Richard (Theresa) Gran, Rapid City; great-grandmother, Crystal Johnson; grandparents, Charles and Esther Nelson; and nieces Emma, Adalyn, Mila, Elarah, Millie, and nephew Jack; friends, Haley Rose, Sara Robins, Jason Vespender, Trinity Flint and many more from the church and community.
Ben was preceded in death by his grandparents, HD and Betty Gran (Helgeson).