In the fall of 1962, a native of Crookston, Minn., left home and moved into the dorms to attend the Northwest School of Agriculture (NWSA). Lyle Nelson was a young farmer who helped on his family farm. His father told him he should go to school to expand his knowledge of farming to help the farm become more successful. 

Nelson described the life lessons he learned while attending the Northwest School as valuable and created stepping stones to succeed in his future.

At age 15, Nelson moved into Selvig Hall to start his first year at the Northwest School. He was nervous because it was an all-boys hall and he would have to do a lot of growing up. When he first started, there were many changes that he had to adjust to such as doing his own laundry, and dishes, waking himself up in the mornings, and many more responsibilities. Nelson enjoyed dormitory life and making lifelong relationships with his roommates and friends Jerome Winter, Keith Deadrick, and Wayne Peterson.

Some of the things he enjoyed participating in during his time at the NWSA included attending sporting events to watch his friends and classmates, being with his roommates in the dormitories, and participating in track and field. Horticulture and industrial arts classes were some of his favorite courses which helped him learn a lot about different types of plants and trades which later helped in his farming career.

Nelson described the life lessons he learned while attending the Northwest School as valuable and created stepping stones to succeed in his future. Being away from his family and in school on his own taught him about respect towards his peers and how to be away from home at a young age, which was not very common at that time. Getting along with other students, not causing a ruckus, and staying out of fights were also some life lessons he had to learn along the way.

One story he remembers specifically was when he was in the lunch line. He was waiting to get his food when a student behind him grabbed his wallet from his pocket and tried to take his lunch money. The lunch lady saw what happened and instructed the boy to give Nelson his wallet back. Nelson stayed at the front of the line while the other boy moved to the end. He says this story has stuck with him as he’s grown up and reminds him to watch out for others as others did for him.

Nelson is a Vietnam veteran (1968-1970). As an active veteran, he participates in many Veteran’s Day programs, the Veteran’s Memorial event in Grygla, Minn., and the American Legion. He was also a member of the Valley Township Board in Marshall Township in Minnesota for many years.

Nelson resides in Grygla with his wife, Linda, and they have three daughters Deanna Coan, Sherry Waling, and Joni Nelson. He and his family raised cattle for over sixty years. He appreciates any time he can with family and they enjoy spending time with their thirteen grandchildren and attend many of their afterschool activities. His granddaughter, Mercedes Coan, is continuing his legacy and attends the University of Minnesota Crookston. Now retired, much of Nelson’s free time involves attending auction sales, woodworking, hunting, tending to his garden, and pestering his wife.

Written for the Winter 2022 Torchlight e-Newsletter.

Story Contact: Shawn Smith