Ellen Niel­sen, a longtime resident of Land O’ Lakes, Wis., passed away peacefully on Jan. 3, 2020. She was 91.

Ellen was born Nov. 12, 1928, to Elker and Hertha Nielsen.

She spent her childhood in Oak Park, Ill., and later in Bannockburn, Ill.

She was a graduate of Oak Park High School, attended Lake Forest College, and was a graduate of Rollins College, in Orlando, Fla.

She met the love of her life, Neal, on a blind date set up by a mutual friend who appreciated the irony that they shared the same last name. They were married on July 5, 1952.

Ellen and Neal fell in love with Land O’ Lakes after purchasing a summer cottage on Big Portage Lake in the late 1950s. They built a home and permanently moved there from Deerfield, Ill., in 1963, where they raised their family.

Neal had a dental practice in Eagle River for more than 30 years. 

Ellen was an accomplished bridge player, an avid golfer, and a fisherwoman. She and Neal fished in Wisconsin, Montana, Alaska, Belize, Costa Rica and Florida, but most often in Ontario, which they explored with fly-in guides in the early years, and where in later years they had an interest in a cabin on Sturgeon Lake. Her trophy muskie, walleye and lake trout still hang on her den walls in Land O’ Lakes.

After Neal’s retirement they owned a winter home in Homosassa, Fla., where they made many friends, golfed nearly daily and fished in the Gulf of Mexico.

Ellen enjoyed a long, healthy and happy life, a wonderful marriage, and a close and loving family. She was able to live in her own home until shortly before her death.

Ellen was preceded in death by her parents; by her two brothers, Elker Jr. and Robert; and by her husband, Neal, who died in 2014.

She is survived by her three sons, Neal “Chip” (Sharon), Dean (Kris) and Lee (Lori) Nielsen; and by three grandchildren, Matt, Lauren and Andrew, who will all miss the regular family gatherings with her at the Big Portage Lake home.

Her family wishes to acknowledge the wonderful care that was given to Ellen in her later years by Rae Holden and by Kathy Niesen, among others, and most recently by the excellent staff at Rennes Health and Rehabilitation Center in Rhinelander, and by the caring nurses of Ascension Hospice. We will be forever grateful to you.

A private family memorial service will be held.

Arrangements by Gaffney-Busha Funeral Home, Eagle River. Online condolences may be expressed at gaffney-busha.com.

PAID OBITUARY