Thomas Nilsson, 64, of Burnsville, Minn., formerly of Wadena, passed away Feb. 16, 2007, at the VA Hospital in Minneapolis.
He was born in Minneapolis to Swedish immigrants Erik and Nanna Nilsson. He grew up in south Minneapolis, attended Roosevelt High School, and graduated in 1960.
He attended the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, transferring to St. Cloud State University where he graduated with a degree in business. He began work in the U.S. Treasury Department as a special agent which was interrupted when he enlisted in the Army and served in Vietnam from 1966-68. He was stationed at Tan Son Nhut Air Force Base in Saigon during the Tet Offensive. He served under joint command as an imagery interpreter (reviewing air-reconnaissance photos) and order of battle analyst.
Upon returning to the United States he returned to his position as special agent with the Treasury Department. In 1972, he flew as a sky marshal, guarding international flights from hijacking. He served on security details guarding Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey as well as other government officials and candidates.
While traveling in England, he found jewelry made of horseshoe nails which he purchased to give as gifts. Upon returning home, he decided he could do better and with the assistance of his father started a small business designing, making, and selling horseshoe nail jewelry at craft shows including the Minnesota Renaissance Festival.
In 1972, he met Jeannette Ruikka, who was in training to be a special agent for the Treasury Department. They were married Feb. 24, 1973.
In 1979, they moved to Wadena and purchased an office products business. Three years later they added a Radio Shack franchise and Xerox copier dealership.
After their business closed in 1996, he returned to school and received a degree in jewelry making from MCTC. He was hired by Josten's and worked as a model-cutter for master rings. He loved his work and continued until he was diagnosed with cancer in 2005.
He enjoyed time with his family and friends. He was first to volunteer when anyone needed help. He was actively involved in the care-giving for his and Jeannette's parents. His faith was an important part of his life, and he was active as a volunteer and Sunday school teacher at his church.
Funeral services were held Thursday, Feb. 22, at the Plymouth Apostolic Lutheran Church in Plymouth, Minn., officiated by the Rev. Charles Bergstedt. The pallbearers were Bruce DeVilliers, Peter Hartz, Brian Juvrud, Scott Juvrud, Thomas Knapper and Joshua Wright. Military honors were provided by VVA 470 Honor Guard of Anoka County.
Funeral services were also held Saturday, Feb. 24, at the Apostolic Lutheran Church in New York Mills with the Rev. Don Salo and the Rev. Charles Bergstedt officiating. The pallbearers and military honors were provided by Charles D. Center V.F.W. Post 3289 of New York Mills. He was laid to rest in Woodland Cemetery, New York Mills. Arrangements were provided by Karvonen and Son Funeral Home of New York Mills.
Survivors include his wife, Jeanette Nilsson; daughter, Jenny Nilsson; son, Reuben "Ben" (Rachel) Nilsson, brother, Dennis (Frances) Nilsson; a niece and nephew; numerous cousins, other relatives and a host of friends.