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Nelsons keep blood-giving tradition of shoe, home

He began giving blood while working at Red Wing Shoe Company. She started while still living at her family's home.

Dale and Vicki Nelson got the habit of supporting blood donations early and have continued it into retirement. They plan to again be at the American Red Cross Bloodmobile's visit to Zion Covenant Church in Ellsworth on Monday, May 15.

"If you give your blood now, blood might be there when you need it," Mrs. Nelson said Friday.

Early is especially important to her husband, who always makes his appointments for noon and shows up at the start of the visit, he said. In fact, he doesn't like to be late for anything; that trait is so intense in him that it's led to some arguments when his spouse has thought he was being too early, they agreed.

Nelson's eager to participate in the bloodmobile experience otherwise, he said.

"Tell them the reason Dale gives blood is he likes crackers, cheese, cookies and needles," he joked.

The cookies are made fresh, an attraction to which Mrs. Nelson can attest. She said her regular opening duty as a kitchen helper has been to bake the pans of cookie dough awaiting her. The practice has been in place since Janet Helmer became bloodmobile coordinator and for the entire three years the baker's helped in the kitchen, encouraged to volunteer by her sister, Linda Christensen.

"The Red Cross workers say they like to come to Ellsworth because they get the best food here," she said, listing pork sandwiches and salads among lunch menu items made for the 20-plus workers.

Echoing her mate's penchant for earliness, she said she takes the early kitchen shift, getting there at 11:45 a.m. But unlike his contribution--a blood flow lasting an average of 10 to 15 minutes (and as little as five on speedy days)--hers requires several hours of preparation and clean-up. For both, it's an opportunity to socialize.

"It's like going to the county fair," he said about seeing friends and renewing acquaintances.

Nelson said his blood is the type anybody else can use, though he must get the same kind back if he needs blood. He's been given a six-gallon pin to show for his donation efforts originating at the shoe company, where he was an employee for 40 years, 30 as an edge trimmer in production and nine in maintenance.

"I'd go over to the (Red Wing) VFW after work if the bloodmobile was there," he said, noting he seldom missed.

"A family thing" was the way Mrs. Nelson described her original involvement. The daughter of Kenneth and Dorothy Emhoff said her mother was unable to give blood and her father had an unusual type, in high demand. She remembered as a senior in high school being released from class to donate and going with a group of friends.

"A nice memory was being turned away because I was too light...I didn't weigh enough," she said of a past requirement.

The village native's been retired from UW-River Falls for approximately the last three years, she said. Initially a school teacher, she left because of a dislike for instilling discipline. Later, she learned keypunching and exercised that skill at several jobs, then took computer courses and became a programmer. In her spare time, she enjoys artistic painting and gardening.

Nelson, who grew up in Trimbelle, agreed to her wish they live in town after marriage. The retiree spends his time welding, cutting wood and ice fishing.

He claims he always feels better after giving blood.

"It's like having the oil changed in a car," he said.

"It's one of the things we can do, especially now with the sacrifices being made by our servicemen and women," his wife added.