Raymond J. Nelson Jr., 83, of Gilbert passed away April 19, 2019 at the Virginia Care Center with his loving wife, Sandi, at his side.

Born in Minneapolis on July 5, 1935, Ray (Babe) was raised in Britt and Virginia. In the early 1940’s the young family of three moved back to Britt near the Maki family farm where Babe spent much of his childhood with his Finnish grandparents, Isaac and Hilma. Many days were spent helping Grandpa with milking the cows, feeding the pigs, planting potatoes in the spring and picking them in the fall, and in doing so, he learned a few words of Finnish.

Ray graduated from Roosevelt High School, Virginia, in 1953 and attended Virginia Jr. College. In 1954 he enlisted in the U.S. Army with his friend and classmate, Ken Blake, serving in Greenland, Labrador and Newfoundland.

For most of his career he worked in sales and always enjoyed his travels throughout the Midwest calling on his customers in the automotive service industry. After retirement he kept busy and made new friends selling advertising to local business establishments.

Ray and his wife, Sandi, were married in Eveleth in 1976, lived in Eveleth, the Twin Cities area, Britt, Max and recently, Gilbert. During their 42 years of marriage, Ray and Sandi enjoyed traveling in their motor home, attending country music festivals and spending several winters in Arizona and Texas. At their home in Max (north of Deer River) Ray cultivated a garden raising vegetables, and, entertained his friends from Minneapolis and St Cloud who camped on the shores of Bass Lake. Among his friends and relatives he was known for his barbequed, smoked baby back ribs recipe!

He was an ardent reader of books, newspapers and loved satire; kept up with politics and current issues through print media and cable TV.

Babe is survived by his wife of 42 years, Sandi; brother, Lauren Nelson (Mary Ann); sister, Mary Lee Kesanen (Byron); brother in law, Raymond Johnson; beloved step-children, Debbie Koski (Kelly); David Starc; sons Michael, Scott, Jim and David Nelson; 11 grandchildren, 6 great grandchildren, 3 step grandchildren; numerous nieces and nephews and very special friends Roger and Ruth Eickhoff of St. Cloud.

He will be sadly missed by special step-grandchildren, Jacob and Wyatt; Jacob who spent many hours with his “G-Pa” while growing up, and Wyatt, who traveled from Colorado each summer to visit his “G-Pa”.

Babe was preceded in death by his father, Raymond Sr. in 1968, his mother, Helen in 2017 and Helen’s husband, Bill Walker, in 1985.

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A celebration of Ray’s life will be 11:00 A.M. Tuesday, April 23, 2019 at The Landmark Funeral Home in Virginia with Pastor Art Dale officiating. Visitation will be one hour prior to the service. Military rites will be accorded by the Virginia Serviceman’s Honor Guard. Burial will take place at a later date at the Sand Lake Chapel Cemetery.

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