Riverland pays tribute to Nelson

Published 6:45 am Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Friends and family will gather this week to celebrate the life of Katie Nelson — and ensure that her legacy will continue to touch others for years to come.

An evening of music, skits and memories, “A Shining Star…Katie Nelson Remembered,” will be held Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Riverland Community College. The event is a tribute to Nelson, who died from a newly diagnosed brain tumor at the age of 29 last year.

All proceeds will benefit a scholarship in her name at Riverland. Event organizers would like to raise $10,000 so that an endowed scholarship can remain in place indefinitely, operating off of its interest, said Jerry Girton, Riverland’s director of theater.

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The scholarship would be awarded to music, theatre and massage therapy students at Riverland, as Nelson studied in these three fields. She was involved in music and theater at Riverland before transferring to Minnesota State University-Mankato, where she completed her bachelor’s. Nelson had returned to Riverland and was working on a degree in massage therapy at the time of her death.

Former students who performed with Nelson will return to the college Friday to present songs, scenes and dances that they once performed with Nelson.

“They’ll be performing scenes from shows that Katie was in here,” Girton said.

In addition to performances from “Honk,” “My Fair Lady,” and “Guys and Dolls,” there will be an auction, food and other entertainment.

“It is really a celebration of her life,” Girton explained.

Nelson was studying massage therapy to use for a day job while pursuing her passion for musical theatre.

A few of her roles at Riverland included Adelaide in “Guys and Dolls,” Mrs. Higgins in “My Fair Lady,” LuLu in “Footloose” and Lowbutt in “Honk.”

“She is remembered by those who knew her as being a vivacious, funny, somewhat bemused, open, compassionate, giving person,” reads a memorial in Riverland’s current edition of “Performing Arts News.”

Tickets to the event are $20 and are available on all campuses and through Riverland’s box office.

Piggy Blues, Belles and Beaus, Minnesota State University-Mankato Department of Theatre and Dance, The Coffee House on Main and Riverland’s music, theatre and massage therapy programs are among those sponsoring “A Shining Star… Katie Nelson Remembered.”

To donate an item to the event, contact Jerry Girton at 434-7390.

A Shining Star… Katie Nelson Remembered

When: Friday, Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m.

Where: Frank W. Bridges Theatre

Riverland Community College

1900 8th Ave. NW

Tickets: $20