Randall Nelson

Obituary of Randall Neil Nelson

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Randall Neil 
June 6, 1926 – July 30, 2023

As I always said, “The guy with the scythe wants to get me he will have to catch me as I walk toward the River Landing.” I always said I wouldn’t be sitting around waiting for him/her/it. But it seems that, as of July 30, 2023, I stopped too long to look at the beautiful scenery. So, as a former Saskatoon wit, Hugh Arscott, wrote in his obituary, “If this is here, I’m not.” And since I have been an inveterate writer of letters to the editor, I thought this could be my final epistle.

My human energy that became evident in Rosetown, Saskatchewan on June 6, 1926, has now dissipated like the heat from Isabelle’s cook stoves in our teacherages. 

I am predeceased by Isabelle, my loving wife and close companion of sixty-seven years, my parents, Lewis and Gina Nelson, who faithfully and courageously gave their all through difficult years of the 1930s and beyond to raise their large family, and by my youngest daughter, Nancy Chillog. I have also been predeceased by my siblings Orville, Irene, Leonard, Alton, Evelyn, infant brother Murray, Maxine, and Audrey. I have always felt very privileged and proud to be a part of such a fantastic family.

I leave behind to mourn, my/our daughter Helen (Jude Keast), son Fred (Janet Vesterback), son Byron, daughter Carolyn Hindmarsh (Bruce), son-in-law Ken Chillog, and grandchildren, Conor Nelson, Severn Nelson (Cory Price), Nathan Hutchinson, Ashleen Hutchinson, Marty Hutchison (Emily), Bethany Hindmarsh (Warren Heiti), Matthew Hindmarsh, Sam Hindmarsh (Bailey), Amy Putnam (Chris), Ashley Chillog (Ryan Mitchell) and my joy of the last two-plus years, great-granddaughter Lydia Putnam. Also surviving me are my numerous nieces and nephews. But what made me feel so pleased is that they all seemed to love and like me. And I hope all of them realize that I, in my turn, loved all of them and that I am very proud of all of them.

I was fortunate to have been raised among the great friends and neighbours of the Ruthilda area of Saskatchewan. I intended to become a farmer near Ruthilda, but because of a lack of imagination, dry weather, and a shortage of inclination, farming was not to be a part of my life. Instead, in the fall of 1947, I headed off to Saskatoon Normal School and became a school teacher. It was there that I met Isabelle Long, the love of my life. We were married on December 30, 1948.

After teaching in three rural schools and two small towns, in 1957, I headed off to the University of Saskatchewan to finish off a Bachelor of Education degree. With my newly-minted degree, our family moved to Yorkton where we raised our family and enjoyed the best 25 years of our lives.

For most of those 25 years, fortunate happenstance led me, someone of Norwegian descent, to teach French to students of Ukrainian, Anglo, and German origin. An experience I truly enjoyed. 

In addition to teaching, I also took part in several volunteer activities: the Yorkton Oratory Society, the U of S Alumni Association, and politics. I also served as a Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation salary negotiation consultant for teachers in the Yorkton area.  

But the day came when I found that I had three meetings scheduled in one evening. As a result, I decided to restrict my volunteer work to one of my great passions: politics. As a result of my political activism, and with Isabelle’s excellent assistance, Yorkton people gave me one of my life’s greatest honours when I was twice elected as NDP MLA for the Yorkton provincial constituency, serving from 1975 To 1982. It is difficult to fully express my great gratitude to all the people who believed in me and who worked and voted for me in those elections. 

It was also a great privilege and honour to be elected with the many NDP MLAs who served with me. Because of the honesty, integrity, and ingenuity of Mr. Blakeney and his government, we were all proud to have the privilege to serve under such inspired and inspiring leadership.

Following my defeat in the election in the election of April 26, 1982, I once again tried classroom teaching. But teaching was no longer my forte and we retired to Saskatoon in the summer of 1983. There we lived in two houses, a condominium, and finally in The Palisades, an assisted living arrangement.

I wish to thank the friendly staff and the friends I made at the Palisades as well as the many friends and relatives who, all through my life, made my worldly passage feel most worth while. Yes, and I appreciate even those who opposed me because they made me search my own ideas to see if I was on the right path in life. 

I would also like to thank the nurses, doctors and staff at the University Hospital who treated me and kept me comfortable in my final hours.

I must say that I am very pleased and honoured that Saskatoon Funeral Home agreed to perform all arrangements for my final exit from this world. Thank you, Bill and Morgan Edwards and company at the Saskatoon Funeral Home for your compassionate and caring services.

Now, following cremation, I am to be installed with Isabelle in our final “condominium” near the entrance to Woodlawn Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers please make donations to either the Saskatchewan NDP or to the Saskatoon Food Bank.

A Celebration of Randall’s life will be hosted by his children and grandchildren on August 19, 2023 at 11:00 am, at the Saskatoon Funeral Home. The service will be livestreamed and can be accessed by a link on Randall's Tribute page at www.saskatoonfuneralhome.com where condolences may also left for the family.  


Memorial Service

11:00 am
Saturday, August 19, 2023
Saskatoon Funeral Home
338 - 4th Avenue North
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
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