Elsie (Nesset) Kittleson, age 92, departed on her final adventure on June 27, 2022.
Visitation was July 1 at Decorah Lutheran Church followed by a funeral service. Burial was held at a later date at East Clermont Lutheran Church cemetery. The family requests donations to EWALU Camp and Retreat Center. The family would like to extend special thanks to Winneshiek Home Hospice for their compassionate care and support.
A lifelong traveler, Elsie was born on July 7, 1929, to the Rev. A.O. Nesset (Luther Class of 1913) and Blanche (Lawston) Nesset in Leeds, N.D. She joined two sisters, Ruth (Nesset) Eggleston and Esther (Nesset) Grinna ‘46. In 1943, she moved with her family to Clermont, Iowa, where her father was a Lutheran pastor. It was at Clermont High School where she met Dean Kittleson ‘52. After Elsie attended Luther College and graduated from Fairview Hospital School of Nursing, they were married on April 24, 1953, at East Clermont Lutheran Church.
Elsie’s childhood camping experiences led her and Dean to continue camping adventures with their five children. With their pop-up camper, the family traveled through nearly all the National Parks, every state west of the Mississippi, many Eastern states and Canada.
Elsie worked as a nurse in Waukon and Manchester and while living in Earlville, she became the first school nurse at the Maquoketa Valley School District. Following their move to Elgin, she worked for many years at Palmer Memorial Hospital in West Union, where her favorite job was delivering babies when the doctors didn’t arrive on time.
Elsie and Dean began bicycling in the 1970’s. They completed over a dozen RAGBRAIs with the Alpine Pedalers and rode 5,000 miles cross-country on the Iowa 150 ride in 1995. Their other travels took them to Mexico, Alaska, Maine, Texas and Florida, and in retirement they spent winters at the Fountain of Youth Spa and RV Park in southern California. After Dean’s death in 1997, Elsie moved to Decorah, where she enjoyed attending musical and cultural events at Luther College and in the community, singing with the Northern Lights and the Decorah Lutheran Church choirs, guiding at Vesterheim and jumping around the Decorah Pool and drinking coffee with the Bobbers. She continued to see the world, bicycling and touring in the Netherlands, Costa Rica, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Greece and the Canadian Rockies. Elsie pedaled around Decorah into her 90’s and inspired many to “keep moving!”
Elsie is survived by her five children: Jean (Dale) Villhauer of Tomah, Wis.; Ruth Kittleson ’78 of Viroqua, Wis.; David Kittleson ‘80 (Lisa) Kittleson of Blue Earth, Minn.; Dale (Frances) Kittleson of Decorah and Judy Kittleson ‘86 (Mike Wilker) of Decorah as well as nine grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and numerous nieces, nephews, extended family and many friends near and far.