Darrell Alvin Nelson, 79, of Red Wing, passed away peacefully in his home on Saturday October 3, 2020, after a two-year battle with mesothelioma. He was born on December 7, 1940 in Isle, MN, the adoptive son of Alvin and Edel Nelson of Red Wing. Darrell attended Burnside Elementary and Red Wing Central High School, also serving two years in the National Guard. After graduating in 1958, he joined the U.S. Navy. It is there that he met his wife, Barbara Robinson, and they married on August 4, 1962 in Burlington, CT. He went on to serve for 20 years, including two tours of duty in Vietnam, and retired a Chief Petty Officer in January 1977.
He moved his family to Red Wing soon after and ended up working for the Red Wing School District as an Engineer/Custodian. Known to numerous grade school kids as “Popeye”, he worked at Burnside Elementary, Washington Elementary, and the High School before retiring from Red Wing Technical College, where he also taught steam engineering. During this time he also helped manage Grandview Mobile Home Park. After retirement he kept busy by working part time as a morning stocker at Menards in Red Wing.
He was involved in Webelos for Cub Scout Pack 40, was an usher and maintenance volunteer for church, and enjoyed volunteering for youth activities as a lifelong member of First Lutheran Church in Red Wing. He showed his love and support for our military by being a volunteer driver for the county VA office and a member of the Red Wing Military Honor Guard. He was his granddaughter’s biggest fan, cheering them on at swim meets, soccer, plays & recitals. He enjoyed bowling and golf, with bragging rights to the family’s only hole-in-one. He also liked bike rides, hiking in the Boundary Waters, hunting, and traveling. He was also a huge Vikings football fan. Darrell was a life member of VFW Post 1218 and the Disabled American Veterans. He also belonged to the American Legion, Teamsters Local 320 (steward), AFCME (steward), and the Boy Scouts of America.
He is survived by his wife Barbara of Red Wing; sons Darrell R. (Jennifer) of Waukesha WI, Robin (Shari) of Spring Lake Park, MN, and Devin of Red Wing; brother Kent of Maple Grove, MN; granddaughters Mikayla of Spring Lake Park, Mackenzie and Amber of Waukesha, WI; several half brothers and sisters; and several nieces, nephews, and grandnieces. He was preceded in death by son Brian, adoptive parents Alvin & Edel Nelson, and his birth parents.
Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Friday, October 16, 2020, at the Mahn Family Funeral Home, Bodelson-Mahn Chapel with a legion prayer service at 7 p.m. Masks and social distancing are required. A private family service will be held at First Lutheran Church at 11 a.m. Saturday, October 17, 2020. The service will be live streamed on www.firstlutheranrw.com website. Burial will be at Oakwood Cemetery with full military honors. Memorials are preferred to First Lutheran Church or Mayo Red Wing Hospice. Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.mahnfaamilyfuneralhome.com
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