Obituary for Avis M. Paulson

Avis Marie (Nelson) Paulson, was born June 17, 1941 in Sedro Woolley, WA, and died peacefully on March 11, 2021 at Auburn Manor in Chaska, with her children by her side.

Avis was the fourth of five children of Myrtle Nelson and Rev. J.L. Milton Nelson. During World War II, when Milton enlisted as a chaplain in the Army Air Corps, the family moved from Washington to Myrtle’s hometown of Lamberton, MN. As a “pastor’s kid,” Avis grew up in several towns across the upper Midwest where Milton served, including Duluth, MN and Iron River, MI. She graduated from high school in Marinette, WI in 1959.

Avis attended Augustana College in Rock Island, IL, graduating cum laude in 1963 with a Bachelor’s Degree in History. In June of 1963, she married Dr. Ross Paulson. Avis earned a Master of Arts Degree with a major in Library and Information Science from Northern Illinois University, graduating with honors in 1990. She worked as a reference librarian and reference coordinator at Moline Public Library in Moline, IL from 1982 to 1997. After retirement, she worked at the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center at Augustana College.

Besides her professional accomplishments, Avis was an active volunteer. Highlights include lobbying the Illinois legislature for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in during the 1970s and serving on the Board of Directors of the Mississippi Valley Girl Scout Council, acting as a delegate to the national convention in 1979.

In 2002, Avis and Ross moved to Shakopee, where Avis continued her volunteer work at St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Shakopee and Auburn Manor in Chaska. Wherever she lived, Avis was always involved in her local church, serving on countless committees as well as the altar guild. An avid reader, Avis also loved animals, sports, and the beauty of God’s creation, especially Duluth and the North Shore.

Avis was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Ross; her parents, and siblings, Roger Nelson and Joanne Moll. She is survived by daughters, Linnea (Bruce) Anderson, Lisa (John) Bauch; granddaughter, Katharine Anderson; sister, Janette (Ernest) Muller of Moose Lake, MN; and brother, David Nelson of Marshalltown, IA.

Because of COVID restrictions, a private family service was held Friday, March 19 at Cross of Peace Lutheran Church in Shakopee with Pastor Stephanie Espinoza presiding. A recording of the service can be viewed on the McNearney-Schmidt website. There will be a memorial later in the year for family and friends.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts in Avis’ honor may be made to the following: Cross of Peace Lutheran Church, Shakopee, St. John’s Lutheran Church, Rock Island, IL, The Nelson/Paulson Scholarship, Augustana College, Rock Island, IL or The Southern Poverty Law Center, Montgomery, AL.

Arrangements with McNearney-Schmidt Funeral and Cremation, Shakopee, 952-445-2755. Condolences may be shared at