Cover photo for Nels J. Lillejord's Obituary
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1934 Nels 2024

Nels J. Lillejord

June 16, 1934 — April 8, 2024

Jamestown, ND

Nels J. Lillejord, age 89 years, passed away peacefully, surrounded by loved ones on April 8, 2024, at SMP Health-Ave Maria in Jamestown, ND.

Nels was born to Hans C. and Adeline (Jensen) Lillejord on June 16, 1934, in Minneapolis, MN.  He spent his early years living his summers in Arnaud, Canada, while his parents were farming, and his winters in Minneapolis.  At the age of 13, the family moved to Lanesboro, MN.  After high school, he attended Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.  Following graduation, he started at Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul in the fall of 1956.  In the summer of 1957, he married his hometown girl next door, Dereth Simonson. They raised two sons, Jon and David, while sharing 39 years of ministry together until her passing in 2000.  Throughout his ministerial career, Nels served six congregations in Minnesota and North Dakota, retiring in 1999 to Jamestown.

Nels was a passionate sports fan, especially his love for watching the Minnesota Vikings and Twins.  He enjoyed the game of golf, teaching both of his sons the love of the game.  Summers were spent with his family in northern Minnesota at the family cabin on Whitefish Lake, where one could always find him trolling in a boat.

Nels married Ellen Musland at Mount Calvary Lutheran Church in Eagan, MN, on July 13, 2002, and his family grew exponentially. Over their 21 years together, they cheered on their collective grandchildren at hundreds of sporting events and activities, always a steady presence. They also enjoyed spending time in sunny Arizona and made lots of road trip memories in “R Lil Red.”

Nels was an avid reader and brought a lot of laughter to everyone with his one-liners and quick wit. He was an active bicycler, golfer, fisherman, hunter, and gardener, who especially enjoyed tending his roses.

After retirement, Nels served as interim pastor at Christ the King in Ellendale, ND, Our Redeemer’s, Edgeley, ND, Zion Lutheran, Kulm, ND, and Immanuel Lutheran in Jamestown. During this time, Nels and Ellen enjoyed hosting congregations in their home, especially during the Christmas season. His family looked forward to Nels reciting the Nativity story by memory every Christmas Eve. He touched thousands of lives as a pastor, being there in the highest of highs and lowest of lows in people’s lives. He was wise, offered sage advice and will be missed by all who shared in his life.

Nels was preceded in death by his parents, Adeline and Hans Lillejord, his wife Dereth and his brother Eric.

He is survived by his wife Ellen, son Jon (Connie) Lillejord, Jamestown, ND, son David (Joy) Lillejord, Eden Prairie, MN, five grandchildren, Katie (Cam) White, Andy (Shenille), Jacob, Rachel and Matthew Lillejord; great-granddaughter, Ellie White; brother Hans Lillejord, Manor, Texas; nephew Hans Lillejord Jr. and niece Kersten (Jeff) Levine and four great nephews and nieces. He is also survived by five stepchildren, Roy (Pamela) Musland, Jamestown, ND, Cody (Sheila) Musland, Edgeley, ND, Eric (Denise) Musland, LaMoure, ND, Julie Skunberg and BJ Kratz, Jamestown, ND, Justin (Angela) Musland, Ham Lake, MN; fifteen step grandchildren, Erin Musland, Cally (Darin) Petersen, Cole Musland and Logan Winter, Taylor Musland, Jenna (Zack) Pipek, Austin (Kallie) Musland, Shelby (Cody) Richter, Molly and Max Musland, Teagan (Kade) Thompson, Boden and Madden Skunberg, Harrison, Tanner and Lucas Musland; nine step great-grandchildren, Paisley, Hoyce and Scout Pipek, Saige, Wyatt and Brody Musland, Henley and Bennette Musland, and Winslow Richter and numerous step nieces and nephews.

Prayer Service – 7:00 p.m., Monday, April 15, 2024 at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Jamestown.

Funeral Service – 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, April 16, 2024 at Immanuel Lutheran Church.

Visitation – One hour before each service at the church.

Graveside Service - 2:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 17, 2024, at Lanesboro Cemetery, Lanesboro, MN

Johnson-Riley Funeral Home is assisting with arrangements with Eddy Funeral Home in Jamestown, ND

Service Schedule

Past Services

Graveside Service

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Starts at 2:30 pm (Eastern time)

Lanesboro Cemetery

, Lanesboro, MN 55949

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