LaVonne ‘Vonnie’ Nelson

LaVonne “Vonnie” Nelson, 85, of Grand Island died Thursday, Sept. 5, 2019, at the Good Samaritan Society in Grand Island.

Memorial services will be at 11 a.m. Monday, Sept. 16, at the First Presbyterian Church in Grand Island, with the Rev. Lisa Ewald officiating. Inurnment will take place at the church columbarium. Memorials are suggested to the First Presbyterian Church or the donor’s choice.

Vonnie was born Feb. 1, 1934, in Minneapolis, Minn., to Harold and Nora (Johnson) Ronngren, a Swedish immigrant family of one brother and three sisters. The loving, caring and giving home that she was raised in created an amazing gregarious, caring spirit. She married her college sweetheart, C. Roger Nelson, on June 14, 1957, and the two of them became lifelong partners.

The first stop in married life was Boston, Mass. and she was elected president of the Andover Newton Theological Seminary wives club. After graduation, Vonnie and her husband started ministry together, where she was able to use her gifts of grace and caring for people. In each of the churches, she invested untold hours working on church events, redecorating rooms and looking after anyone who needed support.

In Tulsa, Okla., she was president of the Anna Roth YWCA, and was awarded an honorary membership in the Presbyterian Program Agency. She also helped lead church youth mission trips, where she would cook and look after busloads of high school students. In Lexington, Ky., she was the coordinator of Mother to Mother, a nonprofit agency pairing low-income, single mothers with middle-class mothers for mentoring, creating bonds that lasted for decades.

In Grand Island, she was the administrative assistant to the Methodist District Superintendent, and also served as a Stephen Minister at the First Presbyterian Church. She was a hospice volunteer and active in the National Council for International Visitors.

She was known for her culinary skills, and her gregarious nature led to a life full of entertaining friends and family. Many people commented on their luck of being on the receiving end of Vonnie’s cooking. She was incredibly creative and loved trying any new craft, including making jewelry, batik, wood carving, and sewing (including Barbie clothes). She leaves a hole in the hearts of people who loved her.

Those left to cherish Vonnie are her husband, Roger Nelson of Grand Island; son, Bradford Nelson of Leawood, Kan.; daughter, Karen Nelson of Helena, Mont.; and grandchildren, Elizabeth, Carl, Margaret and Christopher Nelson.

She was preceded in death by her parents, three sisters and a brother.

Online condolences may be directed to the family at

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