Immanuel Nielsen and Viola Johnson -- 59 years

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Immanuel Nielsen and Viola Johnson -- 59 years.

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Immanuel Nielsen was born in 1903 in Poulsker on the island of Bornholm, Denmark’s easternmost county. He was baptized in Ebenezer Methodist Church in Nexø. He attended school and received some theological training at Jerusalem Methodist Church in Copenhagen. With encouragement from his pastor, he came to the US in 1923 to complete his theological training, with the expectation that he would return to Denmark afterwards. In Boston he worked as a painter to earn his living while attending the Latin High School in order to receive a high school diploma. He then continued his education at Northwestern University and the Garrett Biblical Institute. Of Danish descent, Viola Johnson was born in 1909 in Racine, Wisconsin. Her father died when she was close to graduating from high school and Viola had to give up her dreams of higher education to help support her three siblings. A former pastor suggested that the family move to Evanston, Illinois, where there was work for women as housekeepers, nannies and cooks. Viola worked for a wealthy family there who let her have Sunday evenings off. ~~ Immanuel and Viola met at Sunday evening services at the Norwegian Danish church on Clark Street. They dated occasionally, but money was scarce. The couple decided to get married when the building Immanuel lived in was to be closed. Viola’s employer allowed them to use the chauffeur’s apartment over the garage if Immanuel would do some painting and be the family's driver upon occasion. On September 5, 1934, Immanuel and Viola were married as part of a triple celebration at Bethany Methodist Church in Racine – it was her grandparents’ 50th anniversary and the 20th anniversary of an aunt and uncle. Viola made her own dress from this pattern, which was handed down to her daughter. ~~ The couple lived in the chauffeur’s apartment until Immanuel graduated from seminary in the spring of 1935. In June they moved to Minnesota, the first of various churches they served. Three children were born to the marriage: Laurits Christian, Lowell William and Kirsten Marie. When Immanuel retired from the ministry they moved to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, to be closer to Viola’s sister, Jeanette. Immanuel began writing poetry as an outlet; Viola was employed at various jobs. When she finally retired they moved back to Minnesota to be closer to their children.

  • Photograph courtesy of daughter Kirsten Strnad, Faribault MN.

  • Courtesy of daughter Kirsten Strnad, Faribault MN.

  • Photograph courtesy of daughter Kirsten Strnad, Faribault MN.

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