Father Robert W. Nelson, at the age of 70 and a priest for 44 years, died at his home on Wednesday, January 26, 2022 in the Township of Sigel, Wood County, Wisconsin.
Robert William Nelson was born June 18, 1951 in Marshfield, Wisconsin, the son of Robert G. and Joanne H. (née Schaefer) Nelson. He attended St. Joseph School at St. Michael Parish in Hewitt. His first three years of high school were at Marshfield Senior High and his last year was at Holy Cross Seminary in La Crosse. His first year of college was at Holy Cross Seminary and he completed his college and theology studies at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota. On May 29, 1977, he was ordained a priest at St. Michael Church in Hewitt by the Most Reverend Frederick W. Freking.
Father Nelson’s first priestly assignment from 1977-1980 was an Associate Pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish in La Crosse. During his time in La Crosse, he was also the Chaplain of the La Crosse Serra Club and Catholic Junior League. He was also a part-time instructor at Aquinas High School in La Crosse for a semester. From 1980-1983, he taught at Columbus High School in Marshfield and was an Associate Pastor at Our Lady of Peace and also served as the Spiritual Advisor for the Marshfield Catholic Daughters of the Americas. Father Nelson was then assigned as the Associate Pastor at Immaculate Conception Parish in Eau Claire for a year. In 1984, he was assigned as Pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Kendall and St. John the Baptist Parish in Wilton. In 1987, he became part-time Chaplain at the Veterans Administration in Tomah. In the summer of 1994, he took off two months to rest at his mother’s home in Hewitt while providing weekend assistance at St. John the Baptist Parish in Marshfield. Later that year, he became the Pastor of Holy Family Parish in Stanley and St. Mary Parish in Czestochowa. On June 1, 1996, he was assigned to the newly unified churches in Boyd and Edson that became Sacred Heart of Jesus-St. Joseph Parish on that same day. Also that month, St. Mary Parish in Czestochowa was suppressed. While at this assignment, he suggested the name of Our Lady of Victory be given to the new hospital in Stanley and his suggestion was accepted. In 2010, Father Nelson was appointed to serve at St. Joachim Parish in Pittsville, Holy Rosary Parish in Sigel, and St. James Parish in Vesper. He was granted Senior Priest status in 2017 and was available to help out at parishes as his health permitted.
Father Nelson was preceded in death by his parents, Robert and Joanne.
He is survived by two sisters, Sandra (Ray) Dyer,and Debra (Jim) Sutton, one brother Gerry Nelson, and nieces and nephews.
A Memorial Mass has been celebrated for Father Nelson and a private family graveside service will be held in the future.