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Karen Nielsen

November 10, 1938 - June 06, 2021

Memorial Service - Saturday

June 12, 2021
- 10:00 AM with a visitation one hour prior.

First United Methodist Church, Fargo


Boulger Funeral Home

Karen Nielsen

November 10, 1938 - June 06, 2021


The livestream for Karen’s service can be found via the link below.


Karen Annette Dickson Nielsen (age 82) died on June 6, 2021, at Rosewood on Broadway in Fargo, North Dakota, following heart failure and a stroke suffered in March 2021. A memorial service will be held at First United Methodist Church in Fargo, North Dakota, on Saturday, June 12, 2021, at 10:00am, with visitation starting at 9:00am. The service will be livestreamed on Boulger Funeral Home’s website.

Karen was the first child born to George and Florence (Erlandson) Dickson in Davenport, Iowa, on November 10, 1938. As a child, Karen’s family frequently moved between Delaware, Texas, and Iowa, finally settling in Derby, Kansas, where Karen graduated from high school in 1956. Karen then attended the University of Kansas and Kansas State University where she earned degrees in nursing and home economics.

After college, Karen joined the US Navy in 1964. During the Vietnam War, she served as a Lieutenant Junior Grade (NC) at the Naval Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she trained nurses, including Gary Nielsen of Plentywood, Montana. After completing her service in 1967, Karen spent some time traveling the country in her Volkswagen Beetle, camera always in hand, before marrying Gary on October 31, 1970, in Missoula, Montana.

In 1974, Karen and Gary moved to Fargo, North Dakota, where Karen taught nursing at St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing (now Sanford Hospital). Later, she taught nursing at Moorhead Tech (now Minnesota State Community and Technical College—Moorhead) and worked nights as a registered nurse for Hospice of the Red River Valley.

Karen was a member of Edgewood United Methodist Church and later First United Methodist Church, where she volunteered with the Caring Closet and was active in Seekers. She was also involved in the Quilters Guild of North Dakota, helping with their annual quilt show, and she volunteered with the Emergency Food Pantry. Karen enjoyed sewing, knitting, crocheting, photography, traveling, chatting with her sister, and spending time with her grandchildren.

Karen is survived by her children, Benjamin (Damien) of Milwaukie, Oregon, and Andrew (Jenny) of Fargo, North Dakota; her granddaughters Marastella, Joanna, and Veronica of Fargo, North Dakota; and sister Carole (Ernie) Pearce of Sun City, Arizona; as well as many caring nieces, nephews, and other extended family and friends.

Karen was preceded in death by her husband, Gary; her parents, George and Florence Dickson; and her brother, Bill Dickson.

Karen requested that her body be donated to the medical school at the University of North Dakota. Even in death, Karen is still teaching future nurses and doctors. Eventually, Karen’s ashes will be interred next to her husband’s cremains at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery in Mandan, North Dakota.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Hospice of the Red River Valley, where Karen passionately worked for many years, and who cared for Karen in her final days, or your local chapter of the ALS Association.


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16 responses to “Karen Nielsen”

  1. Elaine Frison says:

    Wishing the family of Karen peace and comfort. I remember Karen as such a kind, loving person while I, as a RRV hospice volunteer, spent time at their home when Gary was on hospice. She shared her love of reading with me and recommended a couple of good novels. God bless you all.

  2. Janet Schriner says:

    It was such a joy working with Karen when she was on the faculty of the St. Luke’s School of Nursing. Her peers loved working with her, student’s truly appreciated her teaching style and caring approaches. She had such a spirit and bounce! God rest her beautiful soul. My ❤️ To Karen’s family.

  3. Katherine Tweed says:

    What a wonderful life Karen lived. She was an example and an inspiration. Karen was part of the Hospice team who cared for my mother in her final days. Karen taught me how to look for God moments in death. Praise God she knew how to see Him.
    Ben and Andrew — she was so proud of you both. I am grateful you could be with her. Love showed in your relationship in all the time I knew you.
    Peace be with you as you remember her life and your life as a family.
    I feel blessed to have known her, and you.

  4. Claudia Flohr says:

    I too had the privilege of being a teaching colleague of Karen’s. She was so kind, sweet, and caring…the perfect role model for her students. Dedication defines Karen and comes as no surprise that she continues to teach after death. To the family I pray that you are blessed with the memories and the strength that it takes to let your heart heal. Claudia

  5. Linda Sveningson says:

    May u Rest In Peace my nursing colleague and dear friend. What a joy it was to share an office with Karen at St Luke’s School of nursing. She was an awesome mentor to me. She was so committed to providing great learning experiences for student nurses. Student nurses were in good hands in
    her clinical rotations. It does not surprise me that she selflessly continues to teach ever after her death. As was noted, she always had a camera in her hand. She was my wedding photographer in 1982 ❤️ and she captured many precious moments on our special day. Over the years I loved running into her at Fargo Public Library. She was an avid reader. My deepest sympathy to Karen’s family.

  6. Terri Garske says:

    Karen was my nursing instructor at St Likes School of nursing. She was a kind ,caring, patient, empathic, educator.Her influence holds a very fond memories of my time as a student 1974-1976.
    My sympathy to family.

  7. Alan Kimball says:

    I’ve known Karen since high-school days in 1954 when our families became neighbors in Derby KS. We worked together for two years to produce the high-school student newspaper. Many a late Tuesday evening we gained entry to the Derby elementary school to type headlines on their big-font typewriter and to run off finished copies. On one April Fools’ Day eve she convinced me that a one-time slight misplacement of the possessive “S” in the banner headline would be appropriate acknowledgement of the day = “PANTHER’ STALE”. Many years later Karen was a regular helpful and bolstering correspondent with my wife Martha who endured her final days in the University of Oregon Health Science Hospital. Karen was one of the finest people I have ever known. My deepest sympathies to her family and friends.

  8. Mary Ivers says:

    I will miss my precious friend, Karen! She was quiet, kind, caring and unassuming but I am sure that she was a fabulous nurse in her career! My heart aches to think I can’t sit down next to her and chat at church. We always think we have time with our dear ones but sometimes they leave us too soon. I look forward to seeing her again in eternity!

  9. Gayle Driscoll says:

    Karen was one of my favorite instructors at St. Luke’s School of Nursing. I also worked with Karen at Hospice of the Red River Valley. She was such a kind, caring and loving person. My sympathy and prayers to her family.

  10. Diandra Gallagher says:

    We are neighbor’s and she was always known to move our garbage cans back to our house when we were at work, so very kind. She was always busy with her yard work, you could tell she enjoyed doing it!

  11. Ed & April Mitchell & family says:

    Andrew, Jenny, Mara, Joanna & Veronica,

    Our sympathy to you and your family as you mourn the loss of your beautiful mother/grandmother. We pray for comfort for all of you and that she may rest in peace. We enjoyed her smile and gentle presence when we saw her at different school and church events for your family. What a neat and inspiring life she led!

  12. Valli Hogan says:

    Karen and i worked together for Hospice of the Valley and i would often give or get report from her on patients we cared for. She was so kind and caring and the families loved her!!
    I would see her at baseball games that our sons were on the same team.i have talked to her on the phone from Glendale, Az. a few times also. She always has been such a positive person and i will miss her. My sympathy goes out to the family, God bless you all in this most difficult time. Valli Hogan

  13. Jan Klocke says:

    Karen, “Mrs. Nielsen”, was my nursing instructor at St. Luke’s School of Nursing, 1976-78. She was an amazing instructor and mentor. Along with the necessary clinical and assessment skills, she REALLY taught us the importance of compassion, for each and every patient, whom we served. As a young Student Nurse, I really looked up to her.
    Divinely, as the years passed, Karen was one of the Hospice Nurses, who cared for my dad, during the final days of his life. Karen’s compassion and gentleness will always be remembered by our family. Our prayers are with you, Ben and Andrew, and all your family. Jan (and John) Klocke

  14. John J Klocke says:

    This is a new Email: vonklocks@gmail.com

  15. Lois Albrecht-Anderson says:

    Karen was one of my most favorite instructors at St. Likes School of Nursing. She was so caring and understanding.
    Sympathies to her family

  16. CAROLE PEARCE says:

    Karen, you were a wonderful, patient sister and I’ll always miss you greatly! I love you!
    Your little sister, Carole (Dickson Pearce)

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