Photo of Berneil Nelson

A Tribute in Memoriam of Berneil
January 8, 1925 - December 21, 2020

Berneil Nelson was a beloved and dedicated alumna who positively influenced those around her. She grew up on a farm near Hallock, Minn., and attended country school as a child. She was a member of the Northwest School of Agriculture (NWSA) senior class of 1942 and graduated with the advanced class of 1943. She once described her time as very disciplined, as students were to be in their dorm rooms by 7 p.m., and when the clock struck 10 p.m., it meant lights out. Her days were filled with classes and school assemblies, which had assigned seats and started with devotional time and singing a hymn. As a hardworking student and an avid reader, Nelson was named “Best Girl Student” in her class yearbook. In addition to her studies, she played the cornet, was president of the Young Women’s Christian Association, a member of the speech choir, the Aggie board, and helped out with the traditional Senior Day campus tour.

Nelson has forever touched the lives of everyone she interacted with and left an everlasting legacy.
Post-graduation, Nelson began school at the Minnesota School of Business but was promptly offered a job with the NWSA. She returned to Crookston and became the secretary to the registrar. When the NWSA transitioned to the University of Minnesota Technical College in 1966 she stayed on as the assistant librarian for learning resources. Nelson’s impressive work ethic and organizational skills meant she was able to take on a wide range of tasks including working with library budgets, coordinating magazine subscriptions, ordering books, and making the big switch over to the computer system. On top of that, she taught herself to catalog books, something most people go to library school to accomplish. She retired in 1990 and continued her involvement with the school by serving on the NWSA Alumni Association Board and later as an ex. officio member for many years. She often communicated with the Alumni Relations office providing information for the Torch magazine and routinely worked the registration table at the annual NWSA reunions on campus.

Her efforts and commitment to the NWSA and UMN Crookston did not go unnoticed. She received the NWSA “Top Aggie” award in 1974, the University of Minnesota Crookston Torch & Shield Award in 1981, the Distinguished Service Award in 1996, and the University of Minnesota Crookston Champions Club Award in 2005. At the 2017 NWSA summer reunion, Nelson was presented with the Northwest School of Agriculture Alumni “One of a Kind” Award and a $1,000 annual UMN Crookston scholarship was established in her name by the Heritage Scholarship Fund. Aside from her dedication to the school, Nelson enjoyed bowling in the local ladies’ league, reading, embroidery, attending senior events, visiting with family, and cheering on the Minnesota Twins, Timberwolves, and the Vikings. Nelson has forever touched the lives of everyone she interacted with and left an everlasting legacy.

Story Contact: Shawn Smith