Nellie Joan (Casperson) Braaten, age 88, left her earthly life On Tuesday, November 24, 2020, with family by her side, to meet with her Heavenly Father and begin her eternal life. She was born in Crawford County on November 7, 1932, the only child of Casper and Marie (Mikelson) Casperson. Due to the Great Depression, she grew up poor with three generations and extended family under one roof. She was the only child in a house full of adults speaking Norwegian. Her humble upbringing was the foundation for her life. Nellie was baptized by Reverend Nesheim at Southwest Prairie Lutheran Church on December 25, 1932, and was confirmed by Reverend Haagenson at Utica Lutheran Church on May 12, 1946. She graduated from Gays Mills High School in 1950 at the top of her class. She desired to be a school teacher but the Lord had other plans for her. She became an apprentice at the Marinello Beauty Salon in Viroqua, under Marie Christenson. Marie was very particular and saw great potential in Nellie. She took correspondence classes in cosmetology to earn her Operator’s License and her Manager’s License, requiring practical testing in Milwaukee. Later, Nellie bought the Marinello from Marie. Marinello was like another child to Nellie. She truly loved her work and her clients, many of whom had been coming to her weekly for over 40 years! She enjoyed making people feel good about themselves. Most rewarding for her was working with local funeral homes to make someone beautiful one last time, for them and for their family. In her prime she had two Marinello locations and 8 stylists. She valued each of her stylist’s special gifts, and their friendship. She continued to operate the Marinello past her 80thbirthday, amassing 57 years as a cosmetologist. She embodied Marinello’s slogan, “We CARE about your hair.” Nellie was a small, quiet and proper lady, with strong faith and steadfast determination. Once her mind was made up, there was no stopping her! That determination served her well through a serious car accident in her 20’s, stage 3 cancer in her 70’s (while continuing to work!), dementia in her 80’s and the return of cancer after 18 years remission. Nellie was united in marriage to Norman Braaten on April 22, 1967 at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Viroqua, where they remained members through their lives. They built a beautiful life together. She always commented how she married into the perfect family, gaining 8 siblings and their families! They welcomed her as one of their own, and she cherished that love. She looked forward to the Braaten Family Christmas party each year, and especially the years she could host. She was devoted to Norman and was a fierce advocate for his health in his final years. Nellie constantly showed her love for her family with encouragement, laughter, God’s Word and her incredible ability to see the good in everyone, known or unknown. She’d remind us that each person fights their own battle and in their heart is good, and God loves them. She adored her three grandchildren, Annika, Levi and Lukas. She was delighted to give baby Annika her first dolly, who Annika toted everywhere for years! She eagerly gave Levi and Lukas their first “cars”. Seeing the racing between them, Scott and Kathy are worried about age 16! Best of all, she was proud to give all three of her grandchildren their first haircuts! And there was food! A homemade meal on the table every night, and there was always scratch baked chocolate cake, apple pie, donuts or raisin cookies just in case someone dropped by. Guests couldn’t leave without eating something! Nellie had a servant’s heart. Always giving, always doing. She used to say to herself, “shut up and make yourself useful!” Her hands were never idle. When she wasn’t working in the shop she was cooking, baking or cleaning. In her spare time, she liked to sew and knit. She sewed many things for herself, and her children were lulled to sleep by the sound of her sewing machine as she made outfits for them. Wanting to learn more about knitting, she and a group of ladies formed a knitting club and called themselves the Knitwits! They included Mildred Olson (instructor), Alice Thorson, Hazel Olson, Marian Iverson, Alvera Aspenson, Dorothy Lavold, Betty Swenink, Anne Thompson, Ella Jacobson, Martha Bentson, Tillie Swendso, Gunnell Lavold, Lou Michel and Nellie. They enjoyed learning from each other, and of course coffee and sweets. Nellie had a fantastic sense of humor, especially able to laugh at herself. Sometimes out of the blue she’d get on a roll, laughing about something that had happened hours or days before. She could laugh where others may feel frustration. In her later years at Bluffview she enjoyed making the staff laugh by saying things they wouldn’t expect to hear from a sweet little lady.
She is survived by her daughter Becky Van Dieman, daughter Lisa Olsen and her husband Mark along with their daughter Annika, and her son Scott and his wife Kathy along with their sons Levi and Lukas. She is further survived by her cousins Joyce (Dominic) Ingemi and Joe (Sharon) Langve, siblings-in-law Phyllis Jacobson, Beverly Fredrick, Myrtle Braaten and Merrill Gardner, along with many nieces and nephews, dear friend Bev Forde, and others.
Nellie was preceded in death by her grandparents, her parents Casper and Marie, special aunts Alma Mathews and Nora (Norman) Langve, her beloved husband Norman, siblings-in-law Kermit and Evelyn Braaten, Obed Braaten, Myron Braaten, Rebecca and Wesley Erickson, Naomi and Georgie McDaniel, Selmer Jacobson, Robert Fredrick and Deanna Gardner, her son-in-law Charles “Basil” Van Dieman, several nieces and nephews from Norman’s family, cousins and friends.
Words cannot express the gratitude our family has for the incredible staff at Bluffview Memory Care in Holmen, where Nellie had resided for nearly seven years. Their care and LOVE was beyond measure. Thank you also to Dr. Mary Bassing for her care and support over the years, and especially after Mom’s recent hospital stay. And thank you to the Gundersen Health Systems Hospice team and Vicar Michele Engh for their support in Mom’s final days.
A remembrance will be held at Thorson Funeral Home in Viroqua on Tuesday, December 1 at 10:00 AM, with funeral services at 11:00. Burial will be in Viroqua Cemetery. The public is encouraged to view a live stream of the service on facebook.com/thorsonfuneralhome. If attending in person, please respect the family by wearing a mask and by following social distancing guidelines.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day. (2 Timothy 4: 7-8).
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