Iris (Nelson) Lange

Lange Iris

Iris (Nelson) Lange passed away at the age of 89 on August 7, 2019, in Goodyear, AZ.

Iris was born on a farm in Grant County, SD on December 31, 1929, to Florence (Aronson) Nelson and Nuel Wallace Nelson. She was an only child but felt that she gained sisters when her cousins Ardis and Bonnie Lundberg came to live with her family.

When she graduated high school, members of the local school board offered her a teaching job if she would take a summer teacher training class. She loved teaching and spent many subsequent summers taking classes to complete her Bachelor’s Degree in Education. While teaching in Troy, SD, she met and married Hank Lange, the older brother of one of her students. Shortly after their marriage, Hank shipped out to join Army forces in the Korean Conflict.

When Hank returned from his service they moved to Watertown, SD and raised three children there. They were longtime members of Grace Lutheran Church. Iris taught the elementary grades at Lakeview School, and then in the Watertown Public Schools until her retirement. She took great pride in teaching the first computerized classroom in South Dakota, which earned her the SD Teacher of the Year Award.

After retirement Iris and Hank spent many happy years traveling. They loved seeing the United States in their RV and also took several trips to Europe. They eventually moved permanently to Phoenix, AZ.

Iris was preceded in death by her husband, Hank; her parents; Bonnie (Lundberg) Barnes; and beloved aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Iris is survived by her children, Linda (Gary) Nelson, (Phoenix, AZ), Larry (Vikki) Lange, (Griffin, GA), and Laurel (Jeff) VanDenBerg, (Sioux Falls, SD); grandchildren, Colin (Sara) Nelson, (Phoenix, AZ), Kirstin (Seth) Yates, (Phoenix, AZ), and Trevor Nelson, (Detroit, MI); great-granddaughter, Eva Nelson; Ardis (Lundberg) Barber; and treasured sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews, and cousins.

A memorial service will be held at 1:00 pm, Saturday, August 24, 2019, at Thompson Funeral Chapel, 926 S. Litchfield Road, Goodyear, AZ 85338. A celebration of life and interment of ashes will be held at a later date in South Dakota.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Tabor Lutheran Church Cemetery Fund, PO Box 37, Strandburg, SD 57265.

5 Comments on “Iris (Nelson) Lange

  1. Iris was like a sister to me & I called her my sister-cousin. We have always been best of friends.
    When Bonnie & I came to live with her family, Iris never tried to make us feel like she should have preference over us, which I consider commendable.
    Our families remain close to this day.
    We will miss Iris and Hank.
    Ardie Barber

  2. Mrs. Lange was my son’s teacher at Mellette Elementary School in Watertown and she was WONDERFUL! I’m sure my son will never forget or stumble over his multiplication tables.
    We took a family vacation the summer after he had her as a teacher and he wanted to send her a postcard…so he did. I think it’s a high compliment that a 4th grade boy wants to send his teacher a postcard. Later, when she went on a vacation, she sent him a postcard. She was a gem and I know that many young people benefitted from her love of teaching and students.
    With our deepest sympathy,
    Colleen Hestad

  3. Dear Laurel, Larry, and Linda,

    It seems like Hank was just getting things ready in Heaven for his beloved Iris to join him. Their enduring love was so evident on Earth as it is now in Heaven. May their legacies continue to nourish you as well as enrich the lives of the many who loved them so dearly. Iris’ classroom was always such a stimulating place to be – both for her students and for the staff members she conversed with. I feel so very blessed and fortunate to have meet both of your parents and experience their hospitality and graciousness, and to learn about the ‘art’ of teaching from your mum. Love to all.

  4. Linda, Larry and Laurie, your mom was my favorite teacher at Lakeview #3. My mom was sick when I was in second grade and your mom was like a mother to during that time. She had such great respect from her students that just one “look” of disappointment was all it took for us to straighten up and get our act together! My sympathies to you in the loss of your parents. I did try to send a card when your Dad passed away, however it was returned. Nancy Ostrander Barrett

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