Order Flowers

Brian Nelson

September 20, 2020


Boulger Funeral Home

Brian Nelson

September 20, 2020


The Legendary Brian Nelson died peacefully at Sanford Hospital in Fargo early Sunday, September 20th, 2020 at the age of 82.

Brian was born on New Year’s Eve 1937 to Hjalmer (Jam) Nelson and Ann (Jackson) Nelson in Fargo, ND, where he grew up, graduating from Fargo Central High in 1955.

He attended the University of North Dakota where he received his Bachelor of Philosophy (’61) and Law Degree (’62). Nicknamed ‘Putz’, he made many lifelong friends at UND and the stories of the shenanigans with his Sigma Chi brothers are for the ages.

After college, he served as a pilot in the Army from 1963-1965, where he had the honor of flying Hubert Humphrey and other dignitaries. During this time, he met and began dating Mary Margaret Peterson in Minneapolis, MN. His time in the army brought him to Alabama and Texas and solidified his love for the Great Plains. The infinite horizon and winds that whipped across the prairie signified home to him. It encouraged his love of the outdoors, whether a fishing excursion, laying out on a duck pass, or hunting deer. Always with friends. Always with laughter.

Upon his discharge from the Army, he returned to Fargo and began building his Criminal Defense law practice. He married Mary in 1967 and they welcomed children Blair (’69), Dacotah (’75), and Tyler (’81).

Brian practiced law for 50 years and was an equally brilliant and compassionate attorney. He loved the complexity and creativity of formulating a legal argument. Nothing incensed him more than someone whom he felt had been wronged by the system. He felt compelled to take these cases—often pro bono—and many of his wins changed North Dakota law. He cared about his clients, considering many of them friends. And they appreciated him, one happy client in Hebron, holding a “Nut Fry & Pool Tournament” to celebrate an acquittal. He felt there was no greater honor. Brian was a wonderful boss and mentor. In his final weeks, he was very moved to receive calls, notes, and visits from former employees and colleagues, all he considered dear friends.

Brian considered himself a renaissance man. He was a ragtime aficionado and a world class tinkerer. Brian was champion marksman and a gun collector, very fond of vintage over and under shotguns; though he hunted with a beat up Franchi Auto. Brian was talented in the kitchen and loved cooking for friends and family. Those lucky enough to share in one of these meals, will tell you the best part was not the perfectly grilled steak, but the stories and laughter that accompanied it. Later in life Brian took great joy in watching his kids buzzing around the kitchen and was proud that “they all can cook!”

One of the things that made Brian so legendary, was his island. There are different accounts of how he procured it as a young, 19-year-old man. None will be confirmed nor denied here. But it is an incredibly special place that he enjoyed most of his life. His family will continue to enjoy it and will always feel Papa there.

Brian was survived by his bride of 52 years, Mary Margaret Nelson; Son Blair Nelson (Jennifer) of Bemidji, MN; Daughter Dacotah Nelson (Bryce Clambey) of Portland, OR; Son Tyler Nelson (Olga Kalinina) of Luxemburg City, Luxemburg; Grandchildren Alex Nelson (Minneapolis), Madeline, Kiera, Annika, & Hunter Nelson (Bemidji), Mila Nelson (Luxemburg), Tabor & Prairie Clambey (Portland).

He was preceded in death by his parents, Jam and Ann, beloved sisters, Vergel Storch & Gloria Faruolo, many, many good friends, hunting buddies, 7 goats and some of the best Labrador Retrievers in the world.

He was laid to rest at the Fargo National Cemetery in an intimate service attended by his immediate family. A grand celebration of life will take place in safer times.


Comments are not displayed until approved by a member of our staff.

5 responses to “Brian Nelson”

  1. Ingo Keller says:

    I’m so sorry to hear of Brian’s passing. I was Brian’s UPS driver at his law office. Brian always had time to chat with me, always very nice. My deepest condolences to Brian’s family and friends. I’ll have you in my thoughts and prayers. Take care and God Bless. ~~ Ingo Keller

  2. Gordon Dexheimer says:

    I’m honored to have known you Brian, both as a fellow attorney and as a friend.

  3. Kathleen and Maurice Godonmo says:

    We enjoyed reading about your illustrious husband, Mary, but always we will be prayerful at his passing.We are thankful to know you during Trollwood Imagine, and wish that you may be consoled by family. Sorry we have not kept in touch, but we’ll always consider you as a friend.

  4. Judge Thomas A. Davies (retired) says:

    Brian was a one man dynamo. He had a sense of humor- a finite view of the law-and when he represented individuals they knew he was someone special. I knew him in my capacity of both lawyer and Judge and in each case he was prepared. His sense of humor is legendary and if he told either an attorney or a Judge to listen to him–and they didn’t–he showed he knew what he was talking about RIP with the other greats of the Fargo family of law.

  5. Billy Kirschner says:

    I just learned of Brian’s passing today. Please accept my condolences. I shall always be grateful to Brian for giving me my first job as a lawyer and for supporting me and helping me to grow as a lawyer. I remember fondly all the times I would discuss ideas with him and his confidence in allowing me to get the experience as a trial lawyer. He was my leader and I will never forget the one case we tried together and won, and the lessons he taught me. He was a blessing and cannot be replaced. Legendary he was.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *