Marjorie Thea “Marj” (Sather) Nelson, age 84, of Fitchburg, Wis., passed away on March 1, 2021. She was born on June 19, 1936, in Mondovi, Wis., the daughter of Martin Emil Sather and Marion (Wulff) Sather. Marjorie graduated from Mondovi High School in 1954, went on to Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, for three years, then completed her bachelor’s degree at Minot State College in North Dakota, with a major in physical education and a minor in Home Economics. She later went on to Aurora University obtaining her master’s degree in Recreation Therapy Administration, while working full time. She married Wayne H. Nelson on June 21, 1959, in Mondovi.
Marj was the kind of person that took concerns that she saw in the greater world and explored solutions in her job. In her work as a physical education teacher, before Title IX, she negotiated for the girls’ basketball team to have equal access to the same facilities and after-school practice periods as the boys. She also incorporated non-competitive activities like recreational swimming and dance into her gym class program when competitive team sports were the norm. In later years, she was an activities director and encouraged active and engaging physical movement in dementia programs when the push at the time had been sedate activity. She was proud to be working full time throughout her life.
Marj always valued physical activity. She started as a lifeguard, then coached and taught swimming. Together, she and Wayne enjoyed snowshoeing, cross country skiing, hiking and bicycling. She was an avid reader and a great cook, her specialty being Swedish meatballs. Marj always shared a close bond with her sisters and enjoyed their time together. She even helped to take care of her sister Ann’s family when Ann fell ill. Marj and Wayne were able to do mission work in Cameroon, where Marj applied her college studies to teach nutrition and dietary needs, addressed health concerns and literacy for the local Gbaya people. She enjoyed spending time with her family and the companionship of her childhood neighbor and good friend, Judy Whelan, who later became her sister-in-law. She was a member of Advent Lutheran Church.
Marjorie is survived by her husband, Wayne; two daughters, Pamela (Riley Icenogle) Nelson-Icenogle and Wendy Nelson ’87 (Roscoe Mitchell); son, Douglas Nelson; four grandchildren, Rachel (Angelo Aiello) Icenogle and Adrian Icenogle; Audrey Hanson and Sadie Crews-Nelson with their mother Marily Crews; three sisters-in-law, Majil Steiner, Myrna Hagen and Bonnie Nelson; three brothers-in-law, Donald (Nel) Nelson, Rodney (Judy) Nelson and Neil (Linda) Nelson; and nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. She was preceded in death by three sisters, Ann (Jack) Strand, Iva (Milo) Scheuermann and Mary Ellen Sather ‘56; four brothers-in-law, Floyd “Dick” Steiner, Calvin Hagen, Glen Nelson and John (Jane) Nelson; sister-in-law, Beverly (Marlin) Hagen; and her parents.
A private memorial service was held with the Rev. Nick Utphall presiding. Memorials may be made to ACLU Women’s Right’s Project which addresses issues that come into conflict with Title IX. Online condolences may be made at www.gundersonfh.com.