Nancy Jo Raso Eklund, 67

Published 8:55 am Friday, September 6, 2019


Nancy Jo Raso Eklund, 67, passed away suddenly Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019 at her home.

Nancy was a resident of Green River, Wyoming, for the past 47 years and is a former resident of Minnesota.

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Nancy was born on Aug. 18, 1952, in Austin, Minnesota, the daughter of Joseph Raso and Rose Marie Fries.

She attended schools in Minnesota and was a 1970 graduate of Pacelli High School. Nancy also obtained a bachelor’s degree in physical education and special education from St. Cloud State University as well as a master’s degree in early childhood development and special education from the University of Northern Colorado.

She married Byron Eklund in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Aug. 10, 1984.

Teaching was Nancy’s true purpose and passion. She worked as a physical education teacher for Sweetwater County School District No. 2 for 43 years until her retirement in 2017.

Nancy was the executive director of the Wyoming Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (WAHPHERD) from 1996 to 2019, and although there were many, a few of her favorite accomplishments and associations include: Shape America, Disney Teacher of the Year in 1996, Fuel Up to Play, American Heart Association, Jump Rope for Heart/ Hoops for Heart, Wellness Director, PEP Grant Director, Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sport, and Wyoming Health Standards Writing Team.

To Nancy everyone was her family, and to everyone she felt like home. Her favorite thing was to be around her husband, kids, grandchildren, siblings and their families, and all of the extended family and friends that constantly filled her heart and home with joy, where everyone loved to join together for her unmatched and authentic Italian cooking. She grew up a champion competitive swimmer, so anywhere near or in the water made her feel young again. Simple things like sitting in an Adirondack chair, listening to Kenny Chesney, a good book with an ice cold margarita (or two) was the good life to her.

Nancy’s siblings and parents were of the greatest  importance to her. To have the most wonderful memories of family road trips to Boston to see dad’s family and to Quincy, Illinois to visit mom’s family was a treasured event. The gatherings around the dining room table for Sunday Italian dinner was a special time for the Raso family.

She loved that she was able to see the world, traveling all over (she visited every baseball field she could), but coming home for summer days at The Flaming Gorge or fall days camping in the mountains is where she felt true bliss.

Survivors include her husband, Byron Eklund of Green River, Wyoming; one son, Chip Eklund  (Sara) of Morrison, Colorado; their two sons, Boston and Bo; one daughter, Lauren Eklund of New York, New York; one brother, Michael Raso (Barbara) of Austin, Minnesota, and their children, Katie (Mario) Markus and Rylee of Hastings, Minnesota; Matt of Austin and Joey of Columbus, Ohio; one sister, Christine Raso and husband Dr. Gary Ludwig of Neenah, Wisconsin; daughter, Claire Shannon (Tyler) and their daughter, Quinn of Minneapolis, Minnesota. One uncle, Andrew Fries and wife Donna of Quincy, Illinois as well as several cousins, nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents, and one brother-in-law, Robert E. Neely, grandparents, uncles and aunts.

Following cremation, a Celebration of Life will be conducted at 11 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019, at Green River High School, 1615 Hitching Post Drive, Green River, Wyoming. Friends may call at the high school one hour prior to services.