Patrick Reusse: Augsburg honors its 100-year-old coaching legend

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 27, 2014 - 9:13 PM

Edor Nelson indeed lasted a century, and on his birthday Augsburg honored a living legend


Edor Nelson and his family entered the ballfield through a gantlet of Augsburg athletes at the dedication ceremony for the scoreboard installed in his honor.

Photo: Courtney Perry • Special to the Star Tribune,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Editor's note: Patrick Reusse wrote this column for the August 19, 2014 edition for the Star Tribune, eight days before Edor Nelson passed away.

Edor Nelson was visiting Augsburg for a football practice before the start of the 2013 season. He was complimenting athletic director Jeff Swenson on the new artificial turf that had been installed.

“Then Edor said, ‘We need a new scoreboard,’ ” Swenson said. “And he said it more than once.”

The scoreboard at Augsburg’s Edor Nelson Field had stood for two decades and offered only the basics in an electronic board.

You only replace high-budget items such as this through fund-raising at colleges such as Augsburg. It didn’t take long after this conversation with Edor for the light bulb to go on above Swenson’s cranium.

Edor’s 100th birthday would fall on Aug. 18, 2014. That was a year in the future. There would be time to raise $300,000 for a modern scoreboard, with video capabilities, from old Auggies and have it ready to present to Nelson as a birthday present.

The only complication would be the old coach making it to the occasion. Swenson smiled and said: “Edor told me he was going to make 100.”

Sure enough, a few minutes before Monday’s noon reception, there was Edor Nelson, accompanied by his son Bruce, headed down the sidewalk outside the Augsburg athletic center.

One problem: The battery went out on Edor’s trusted electric wheelchair.

You can find a symbol in everything. Seeing Edor facing this immovable object was remindful of what it must have been like during those 23 seasons as Augsburg’s football coach, when Edor was putting his Auggies up against MIAC coaching legends such as Lloyd Hollingsworth at Gustavus, Jake Christensen at Concordia and Jim Malosky at Minnesota Duluth.

“And don’t forget [John] Gagliardi,” Edor said Monday. “St. John’s was tough to beat.”

Yes the Johnnies were, especially when the Auggies spent a number of years conducting practices at Riverside, a nearby Minneapolis city park, and playing home games a few miles away at Parade Stadium.

The on-campus stadium that now sits on the plateau above Interstate Hwy. 94 opened in 1984, 15 years after Nelson had stepped down on as the head coach for football.

Many old Auggies who competed for Nelson, in football (1947-69) or baseball (1947-79), or even the wrestling program that he started or the hockey program that he reintroduced, showed up to honor Edor.

There was a birthday party, where letters from President Obama and Gov. Mark Dayton honoring Edor were read, and then the group went outside to christen the video board.

Edor could see all of this clearly. That’s because he is 100 and has never required glasses.

As folks would have said in Nelson’s hometown of Dawson, Minn., Edor comes from “good stock.” His father, Norman, did die at age 38 when an influenza outbreak swept through Minnesota. The family lost its farm, so Christina Nelson started working as a waitress in Dawson for a buck a week and raised three boys and a daughter.

A reporter mentioned to Edor that his mother had lived to be 103.

  • related content

  • Edor Nelson heard plenty of praise as guest of honor Monday, including from athletic director Jeff Swenson.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Atlanta 7 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Miami 5 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Baltimore - LP: K. Gausman 4 FINAL
Detroit - WP: J. Nathan 6
Minnesota 4 FINAL
Boston 5
NY Yankees 5 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Toronto 4
Cincinnati 13 FINAL
Cleveland 2
Los Angeles 9 FINAL
Chicago WSox 6
Kansas City 3 FINAL
Seattle 0
Seattle 1 FINAL
Milwaukee 15
San Diego 3 FINAL
Arizona 3
NY Mets 3 Top 8th Inning
Washington 3
LA Angels 4 Bottom 4th Inning
Chicago Cubs 1
Colorado 8:05 PM
Oakland 9:05 PM
San Francisco
Indiana 1 1st Qtr 7:55
Milwaukee 10
Pittsburgh 1 2nd Prd 12:34
Carolina 2
New Jersey 0 2nd Prd 11:26
Washington 2
Los Angeles 1 2nd Prd 8:53
NY Islanders 1
Arizona 1 2nd Prd 9:24
Buffalo 2
Anaheim 0 2nd Prd 11:50
Boston 0
Nashville 2 2nd Prd
Tampa Bay 1
San Jose 3 2nd Prd
Detroit 2
NY Rangers 3 2nd Prd
Ottawa 1
Florida 0 2nd Prd
Toronto 0
Montreal 0 1st Prd 14:26
Winnipeg 0
Colorado 9:00 PM
Wichita State 30 2nd Half
Notre Dame 33
North Carolina 28 1st Half 3:39
Wisconsin 27
Evansville 7:30 PM
West Virginia 8:45 PM
Xavier 9:17 PM
St Johns 40 2nd Half 8:51
Villanova 43
NC State 48 2nd Half 10:43
Temple 50
Missouri 39 2nd Half 10:45
Michigan 44
Oral Roberts 42 2nd Half 11:41
Louisiana 35
Duquesne 32 2nd Half 10:40
West Virginia 52
Ole Miss 11 1st Half 10:12
Middle Tennessee 20
Northern Colorado 9:00 PM
St Marys-CA 9:00 PM
Sacramento St
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite team in the NCAA men's hockey tournament?

Weekly Question