When the celebration of Lila Nelson’s life was held at the Textile Center on June 26, I was amazed at the varied and interesting reminiscences of Lila’s life. It was as if the speakers arranged ahead of time to present a perfectly balanced view of Lila’s life and accomplishments. We did not!
For those of you in the wide-flung network of Lila fans who were not able to join us, I hope you enjoy these stories. I can’t capture the other aspects of the event that were meaningful – the true sense of fellowship in Lila, the delight in being together. There was great food, too, and lovely flowers donated by the Textile Center, the Norwegian Consulate, and Francie Iverson. The speakers were introduced by Francie, a good friend of Lila’s, who started with these anecdotes.
Welcome to a celebration of Lila Nelson’s incredible life. During the evening we will touch on some of the things that made Lila an inspiration to so many people and such an amazing friend. Not only was Lila a talented artist with a natural affinity for color, she was also a lover of words.
When Lila was still living in her beautiful home she started to become unsteady on her feet so a group of her weaving friends, myself, Katherine Buenger, Sue Fairchild, Mary Skoy & Phyllis Wagoner decided she needed help getting her laundry up to the second floor from the basement laundry room. We met for lunch to discuss a weekly schedule; one of us said we can call ourselves the washer women. Lila sat there a moment and said, no that wasn’t a good enough name for us. She decided we would be the winsome wenches.
When we were planning this event there were two things we knew we had to serve, the first was red wine. Lila loved enjoying a good glass of wine with friends and even after moving into Lyngblomsten she made sure to have a box of red wine on the shelf behind her books to have when friends would stop by for a visit. She said it was ok to have it in her room as long as it was concealed.
The second was black coffee. The first time my husband met Lila we took her to dinner. After the meal she ordered her coffee black and bitter. She then entertained us with the following story which she loved to tell. One time while ordering her coffee black and bitter her tall black waitress looked down at her and said, “Honey that’s how I like my men”.
Two obituaries appeared in the Minneapolis newspaper, the Star Tribune: a staff written one, http://www.startribune.com/obituary-lila-nelson-educator-and-artist-of-norwegian-textiles-dies-at-93/305757741/, and one written by Claire Selkurt, http://www.startribune.com/obituaries/detail/83134/?fullname=lila-nelson.
In addition to the celebration of Lila’s life, this issue also includes three articles about aspects of the most recent Vesterheim tour to Norway. Those stories are yet another celebration of Lila’s legacy, as she was instrumental in starting the tours many years ago.