Bonnie Lee Nelson

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June 28, 1942 ~ October 11, 1923

A Memorial Service will be held at First Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls, on Wednesday, October 25, 2023, at 10:30 a.m. with a visitation scheduled from 9:30-10:30 a.m and reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) South Dakota in honor of Bonnie.

Bonnie Lee Hess was born in 1942 and grew up on families farm outside of Dell Rapids, SD. Bonnie’s heart was forever tied to her “farm home”. Growing up amidst the peaceful serenity of nature, she nurtured a deep love for the outdoors that would stay with her throughout her life.

As fate would have it, Bonnie attended a Valentine’s Day and met John Nelson. He would ask her to marry him on their third date, but it did not become official until 1965. With stars in their eyes and dreams in their hearts, Bonnie and John embarked on a full and adventurous journey together. Their love story spanned over five glorious decades, brimming with laughter, endless exploration, and unwavering devotion. Their unbreakable bond was tragically severed in 2021 when John ran out of bonus time, leaving Bonnie’s heart forever touched by his enduring love.

Bonnie graduated from Augustana College in 1964. She quickly found her passion in helping others. She had always wanted a “people orientated career” and social work did not disappoint.  For the next 40 years, she tirelessly advocated for those who needed someone in their corner. She worked in special education, as a coordinator for Meals on Wheels, she spent time working for Minnehaha County as a representative payee, and ended her career as a targeted case manager with 5th Street Connection. She made a difference in so many lives. Her dedication and empathetic voice gave hope to countless souls, illuminating paths that previously seemed impassable. She was a fierce warrior in her own right, shining light where darkness threatened to prevail.

Bonnie and John became the proud parents to their daughter, Sara. In 1979, they officially adopted her and brought her into their loving home. Bonnie’s determination and unwavering love shaped Sara’s life for the better, and their bond remains unbreakable to this day.

But Bonnie’s vibrant spirit did not end with her noble work. Sports brought her tremendous joy and animated her evenings and weekends with exuberant cheers aimed at the TV. Her favorite teams, the Minnesota Vikings and the UCONN Huskies Women’s Basketball team, captivated her heart and ignited her passion for the game.

After retirement, Bonnie and John embarked on a new adventure, traversing the open road in their trusty camper. Together, they explored the beauty of the world, creating indelible memories at every turn. One of Bonnie’s most treasured voyages was returning to Germany, almost half of a century after she and John had been stationed in Bad Kreuznach. The flood of memories and nostalgia intertwined with her love for exploration, forging a lasting imprint on her soul.

While John was undoubtedly the love of her life and Sara held a special place in her heart, it was her grandson, James who illuminated Bonnie’s world with sheer joy. His infectious laughter and playful spirit brought endless smiles to her face, and she cherished every precious moment they shared.

Bonnie passed away peacefully with her beloved dog Geno by her side on October 11, 2023. Today, as we bid farewell to our dearly loved Bonnie, let us celebrate the remarkable chapters she wrote in the book of life. Her time on this earth was filled with love, adventure, selflessness, and unwavering dedication. Her laughter will forever echo through the hallways of our hearts, reminding us to embrace each day with open arms and a sense of joy.

Bonnie, your spirit will forever dance in the fields of our memories. May you find eternal peace in the embrace of your beloved John, basking in the eternal sunshine of love.

Rest in love, Bonnie.

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  • Pat & Kris Roberts says:

    Bonnie, We will miss you! We’re praying for Sara and her family, John, and Jamie, in their loss. So sorry Sara! It’s always hard to lose your Mom.

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