October 9, 2014 –Hayward, WI
The American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation is sad to inform you that Dave Nelson, our long-time friend, supporter, Birchlegger and board member, passed away peacefully yesterday morning after a courageous battle with lung cancer. In addition to skiing 31 Birkies, 1 Korte, and 1 Prince Haakon, Dave served on the ABSF Board for 7 years and chaired the Trail Committee for several of those years.
Dave’s legacy will certainly be tied to the Birkie Classic trail. He worked tirelessly to promote the need for a classic trail, personally designing and laying it out, while being an early adopter of GPS technology. He also mapped out additional sections for classic trail extensions south of the Hwy OO trailhead and frequently expressed his desire to see this happen. While with the Forest Service in Hayward, Dave also designed and mapped out the popular Rock Lake and Mukwanago ski trails. Dave had a strong interest in conservation and forestry and approached all aspects of life with a great sense of humor.
Former ABSF Executive Director Ned Zuelsdorff worked very closely with Dave and had this to say, “Dave worked many hours flagging and reflagging the Birkie Classic trail until he got it right. I consider it ‘Dave’s trail’, and in many ways it skis better than the skate trail. The classic trail has led to higher Birkie participation overall and has brought classic skiers back to the Birkie, increasing the ratio of classic to overall skiers from 1 in 5 to 1 in 3.“
Former ABSF Board President Sue Scheer stated that Dave was “a diplomatic person who worked well with the board, yet also had a focus to make the Birkie trail system technically correct and visually appealing for all skiers.”
While only having a brief time to work with and learn from Dave, ABSF Executive Director Ben Popp fully recognizes the impact Dave had on the organization he now leads. “I really enjoyed my year of work with Dave. His passion and knowledge for the ABSF and the Birkie Trail System was truly unmeasurable. He will be greatly missed.”
Current ABSF Board President John Garrett was asked to chair the trail committee back when Dave first had lung-related health issues. “It was hard for Dave to step down, but he knew his health at the time would limit his involvement. As he battled and overcame those early health issues, he was still very active and supportive of all the trail committee activities. We still needed Dave for any trail additions or modifications. Recently, he even finished up several trail maps and got them to us just days before his passing. I will always remember that level of dedication and commitment. ”
Dave Nelson will be greatly missed by the ABSF Board, staff and entire Birkie family. His spirit will continue to shine on the American Birkebeiner Ski Trail and on all of the other silent sports trails Dave helped to create.
Two services will be held:
- Rhinelander, WI: Wednesday, October 15, 2014 at Carlson Funeral Home. Visitation will be from 4pm – 7pm.
- Hayward, WI: Friday, October 17, 2014 at First Lutheran Church. Visitation will be from 10am – 11:30am, and a worship service at 11:30am with lunch to follow.
- See funeral notice here: Carlson Funeral Service
The Nelson Family has set up two memorial funds have been set up to honor the hopes and dreams of Dave Nelson’s life:
- The Dave Nelson Birkie Classic Trail Memorial: Contributions can be mailed to ABSF PO Box 911 Hayward, WI 54843. Please make checks payable to ABSF, or call our office to pay with credit card. With questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-634-5025.
- The Lutheran World Hunger Memorial: Contributions can be mailed to First Lutheran Church 10680 Main Street Hayward, WI 54843. With questions, please contact Pastor Scott Ludford at email@example.com or call 715-634-2141.