Cover photo for Esther T Nelson's Obituary
Esther T Nelson Profile Photo
1925 Esther 2021

Esther T Nelson

August 1, 1925 — June 18, 2021

Our Mother, Esther Nelson, had a full life as a wife, businesswoman, volunteer, and benefactor for many community activities which contributed to our growth and lives in Bozeman.

She was born August 1, 1925, in Hebron, ND to Rudolph and Martina Keller Treichel. The family moved to Montana in 1928 where her father worked for the ACM Lumber Company in Bonner for over 50 years. The family resided at West Riverside, near Milltown.

She was confirmed in the German Evangelical Church, Missoula, attended and graduated from the Bonner elementary school and the Missoula County High School during the difficult forties, a period of war-time material shortages. Fortunately, equipment for the new high school addition had been ordered before the Pearl Harbor attack. The new wing had space for the up-dated home economics, art, music, and library. The old gym was converted for girl’s physical education classes which included GAA basketball. Esther earned the coveted 1500-point purple “M” for competitive sports, library aide, school orchestra as violinist and domestic science.

School clubs engaged in war work and local farm work due to the shortage of manpower. Gas rationing curtailed some long-distance sports and music activities. The “Bitter Root” yearbook was not published. German students experienced discrimination, witch hunting wild accusations, and wonton destruction of suspicious business around the school. Students were taught that this country needs trained, educated leaders, remembering that it is up to the government and state to track down spies and fifth columnists.

As the military cadets had taken over the University, Esther transferred to Montana State College where she was offered a position with the vocational education division of the Office of Public Instruction setting up home economics classes in high schools under the Federal Smith-Hughes Act.

Esther met her husband, Dan A. Nelson, a grandson of local pioneers who came to Bozeman in 1864 and settled in Central Park and later farmed in the Springhill area. Esther and Dan were married March 30, 1945, after Dan returned from duty in the 480th Bomb Squad of the U.S. Air Force. He ventured in farming NW of Bozeman and later turned ten acres into Bozeman’s first Park for permanent, independent manufactured homes on Durston Road and N. 17th Avenue.

Together, Esther and Dan built a log home which was one of the first homes on No. 17th Avenue. Esther took pride in peeling each log. They also built a log cabin on the West Gallatin River near the 320-Ranch. They enjoyed the outdoors including camping, fishing, boating on Canyon Ferry Lake which developed in the 1950’s. They enjoyed snowmobiling and the family assisted in building the Big Sky Snowmobile Trail over the Gallatin Range to West Yellowstone. Our Dad died in 1968 however, the GVSA club members saw to it that we kids were able to continue snowmobiling.

In 1976, Mom was one of a citizen’s committee of six which went to Washington, D.C. to meet with Sen. Metcalf to encourage a study period for his wilderness Bill #393 which, as designed, would have established instant wilderness in the Gallatin National Forest. Sen. Metcalf amended his Bill after learning of the many educational and recreational activities on the beautiful Gallatin Range.

In 1950, OPI moved the vocational offices to Helena. The local School Board offered Esther the position of District Clerk and Director of Business Services. Her office was located in the Emerson School and later moved to Willson School when the Junior High School was moved to 11th Avenue. When Gallatin County High School was abolished in 1957, she was appointed Board Clerk of the High School when it was unified with Bozeman Elementary District No. 7. During her 32 years she worked with many school trustees and Superintendents John Shively, Ed Sommerfeld and Dr. Milton Negus.

A son, Dan A., Jr. was born in September 1956. A daughter, Lori Jean was born in 1960 and daughter, Loni Ann in November 1961. Our father died of heart failure in 1968. With the help of family, friends and an outstanding office staff, Esther was able to maintain the Park and continue with the fast-growing pace of the school system - bond issues for new schools, a bus transportation system in 1962 when 11 rural school districts consolidated with the Bozeman district. In 1971, she was awarded the “Pupil Transportation Person of the Year” by the Office of Public Instruction. The city appointed her to be a member of the Bozeman Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Council.

She was a charter member of the Montana School Business Officials Assn. which was sanctioned by the State School Boards Assn. and the Office of Public Instructions. She served as President of the Assn. 1974-77 and used vacation time to coordinate and conduct School Business Management Seminars through the MSU Education Department from 1975-1991. She co-authored several procedure manuals and initiated a curriculum to certify school district clerks and business managers. She was a registered School Business Official with the American Association of School Business Officials. During her retirement she maintained contact with office staff and colleagues who met often for luncheons and other gatherings. Our Family had many memorable trips, including Disney World, Disneyland and the Rose Bowl Parade and Game at Pasadena when our Bozeman High School Band performed.

She has served on several corporate boards such as the Bozeman Community Concert Association from 1951-1984, Blue Cross Blue Shield Board of Montana from 1981-2001, the Caring Foundation for Children from 1990-2010, which is now part of the State Chip program. After her retirement, she served on the Board of the Gallatin Historical Society and Pioneer Museum from 1984-2006 and the PBS Friends Board to the present.

During the past 20 years she has been proactive with investigative and remedial actions for the pollution of ground water known as the Bozeman Solvent Site, a Super Fund Site, which affected homes and businesses in NW Bozeman.

She is a member of the Business and Professional Women’s Club, AARP, Big Sky Retired Educators, Elk’s Club, Sons and Daughters of the Pioneers, Ghost Town Preservation Society, Intermountain Opera, Montana and Gallatin Snowmobile Associations, Senior Center, Montana Historical Society, and a life member of the Museum of the Rockies and the Bozeman Library.

In 1999-2000 she served as one of the three women appointed by the County Commissioners to serve on a 36-member County Detention Study.

She is survived by her son, Dan, Jr. (Debra); daughter, Loni Ann (Scott) Restvedt; son-in-law, Steve Golden; grandsons Court (Breonna) Nelson, Tyler Restvedt, Ryan (Heidi) Restvedt, Dana Ehlert; granddaughter, Brenna (John) Randall; great grandchildren, Warner Nelson, Courtney, Lee, Keli Randall. Also surviving is her brother, Ruben (Faun) Treichel of Missoula; nephew Don (Becky) Treichel and children Derek and Bonnie; sister-in-law Connie Treichel; niece Julie and numerous cousins in Yakima, WA.

She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband, daughter Lori Jean Golden, brothers Fred Treichel of Missoula, Ted Treichel, U.S. Air Force, an infant brother and sister, and nephew Jim Treichel of Plains.

Mother, you were our friend, our inspiration, our anchor, our mentor, and our partner in life.

A Celebration of Life will be held 11AM, Tuesday, June 29th, at Dahl Funeral & Cremation Service Tribute Center.

In lieu of flowers please make donations to Gallatin Valley Snowmobile Association, P.O. Box 3164, Bozeman, MT 59772. Condolences & memories may be shared with the family at

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Esther T Nelson, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Starts at 11:00 am (Mountain (no DST) time)

Dahl Funeral & Cremation Service

300 Highland Boulevard, Bozeman, MT 59715

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Sunset Hills Cemetery

, Pleasantville, NJ

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