By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN Beautiful sunrises and the promise of spring are keeping Delano resident Jody Nelson full of hope this new year.
Her husband, Sam, died unexpectedly of a stroke in October, making this winter a time of grief and transition.
“When you’ve been married almost 50 years, you think your heart is just going to absolutely break,” Jody said.
Despite the hardships of losing her spouse, Jody has kept a positive outlook, appreciating life’s simple pleasures.
“I was out early this morning, and the sunrise was just absolutely gorgeous,” she said.
Fun and confident, Jody is a woman who is always willing to try something new. She saw a sledding hill a few days ago, and said she’s thinking about giving it a try.
“I’d like to see what that feels like be a kid again,” she said. “I haven’t done that for a long time.”
Throughout her life, Jody has readily accepted new challenges.
As a child, her father’s career took the family to cities throughout the United States. When Jody got married, Sam’s career in the electric utility industry also required several relocations.
“I’ve moved a total of 31 times,” Jody said. “I didn’t mind it, because it was a new beginning a new challenge.”
Decorating a new home was also something Jody enjoyed.
“The thing you don’t like is leaving your friends,” she said. “That really, really hurts.”
However, Jody always seemed to make friends wherever she went. Now, she has contact with people all over the nation. Jody said she even keeps in touch with friends from high school and business school in Kansas.
High school was the place Jody met Sam. They were married in 1960, and raised three children: Jeff, David, and Linda.
Linda and her husband, Eric Lindstrom, live in Maple Plain. They have three children and five grandchildren.
Jeff and his wife, Rebecca, live in New Hope with their twin sons, Chris and Adam.
David and his wife, Lana, live in Delano, and have two daughters, Katie and Kelsie.
Jody loves baking for her family, and often brings them homemade meals and desserts.
“I make an awesome six-layer carrot cake,” she said.
Jody also bakes for neighbors and friends. One neighbor clears her driveway in the winter, and Jody returns the favor with banana cream pie, soups, and other food made from scratch.
Cooking isn’t Jody’s only talent, however. David’s family recently gave Jody a piano, and she’s been sharpening her skills.
“I’m enjoying playing now,” she said. “It’s really kind of fun.”
Jody said her grandchildren are musically gifted, and that someday, she would like to play a duet with each of them.
Calligraphy is another of Jody’s passions.
“I learned that several years ago, just as a new challenge,” she said. “You have to learn to write the alphabet all over again.”
She enjoys using her talent to create memorial books for Delano United Methodist Church.
Jody’s also taken classes for art forms, including ceramics, china painting, photography, and sewing.
“You have to keep on learning,” she said.
When she was younger, Jody went to business school to become a secretary.
“My mother told me that if you become a secretary, you’ll never have trouble finding a job, and boy was she ever right,” Jody said.
Several months ago, Jody retired from Cargill, where she worked in a research bake lab.
Jody’s “fun part-time job” for the past 20 years has been working as a Mary Kay consultant.
Jody and Sam moved to Delano from Tampa, FL about 12 years ago.
“We decided the cold weather was better than the heat and humidity in Florida,” Jody said.
After living in cities like Nashville, Indianapolis, Kansas City, and Portland, Jody said they also wanted a community with a “smaller town atmosphere.”
Their first time living in Minnesota was in 1969.
“Since then, we have lived in Minnesota three times,” Jody said. “This is always home.”