Nancy Nordgren, veteran journalist, dies at 66

Veteran Twin Cities journalist and longtime St. Anthony Park resident Nancy B. Nordgren, 66, died July 12, 2021, unexpectedly of complications from ovarian cancer.

Nancy was born Oct. 30, 1954, in Olivia, Minn., to William and Marcella (Nelson) Nordgren. The family moved to St. James in 1963, after her dad accepted a job at the St. James Plaindealer. Nancy followed her dad’s journalism bent at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, where she majored in German and joined the staff of the Gustavian Weekly.

After college, Nancy went to work at the Mankato Free Press, where she was a copy editor, styled her hair to look like Billie Newman on the “Lou Grant” show and played second base for the paper’s beer league softball team, the Typos.

Nancy moved to Washington state in 1981 to work as assistant news editor at the Everett Herald. She returned to Minnesota in 1989 to work for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and had two stints there: first, from 1989 to 2007, serving as assistant city editor, copy editor and layout editor.

Nancy took a buyout in 2007 and worked as a freelance editor until she returned to the Star Tribune in 2013, bringing her cheerfulness, compassion and encyclopedic knowledge of almost all things to the newsroom and editorial pages. Colleagues described her as a “crackerjack copy editor,” “a true professional,” “joyful, kind and brilliant.” She retired in 2019.

Nancy loved music, sports, travel, the North Shore and most of all, her two sons, Will and Ted Olsen, who were born in 1987 and 1991, respectively, the two years that her favorite baseball team, the Minnesota Twins, won the World Series.

Inheriting a love of music from her musician parents, Nancy grew up playing clarinet and singing in choirs through high school, college and at St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church. She played for many years in the St. Anthony Park Community Band. She passed that love on to Will and Ted, who are both accomplished musicians. She tried not to miss any of their performances, whether they wanted parental viewing or not, and she was known to sneak into the back at Will’s shows at the Hexagon or Triple Rock. She was proud of helping make them well-rounded adults, her sons said.

Active in the St. Anthony Park community for many years, Nancy served on the Bugle’s governing board, Park Press, for six years and volunteered each year at the Minnesota Newspaper Museum at the Minnesota State Fair.

Preceded in death by her parents, Nancy is survived by her sons, sisters Kathy (Bryon) Christenson and Peg (Phred) Young, nieces and nephews, friend Bill Fossum, her kitty Corah, former in-laws on the Olsen side and a long list of friends that would fill all 16 pages of the Bugle.

Her parting words of advice for all of us were: “Life is short. Take the trip. Buy the shoes. Eat the cake.”

A memorial service was held July 27 at Lakewood Cemetery Chapel. Donations can be made in Nancy’s name to the Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance, mnovarian.org. 

Leave a Reply