After a struggle with cancer, Raymond Edward Nelson, 89, died at his home in Tacoma, Wash., with his family around him on Wednesday, March 20, 2013.

After a struggle with cancer, Raymond Edward Nelson, 89, died at his home in Tacoma, Wash., with his family around him on Wednesday, March 20, 2013.

Funeral services were held Wednesday, March 27 at Our Lady Queen of Heaven Catholic Church. Ray was interred in the Gethsemane Catholic Cemetery,  Federal Way, Wash.

Ray was born in Devils Lake, N.D. on March 5, 1924 to Ragnar Emanuel and Freda Emma (nee Moore) Nelson, their third child. He attended the local school where he completed its highest level, eighth grade. His early working years were spent on the family farm. During World War II his torn eardrum kept him out of military service, so he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps. He joined the Moose Lodge and would remain a member for the rest of his life.

Ray and Helen married at the church in Minnewaukan, N.D. on Dec. 5, 1949. They moved frequently to keep up with his work as a surveyor with Western Geophysical. Their family grew steadily, with children born in seven different states. After 13 years Ray and Helen took a big risk, leaving the job that paid well but kept him away from the family, to settle in Washington State and run Chervenka Farm in the Puyallup valley, where they grew and sold apple tree graphs.

The children grew up there, helping work the farm. The family put down their own roots, including at All Saints Catholic Church in Puyallup. In some of his rare spare time he took a correspondence course in television and electronics repair. The children grew into adults and started families of their own. As his kids needed less of his time, he had more to spend with grandchildren. Many of the grandchildren remember the farm, rows of apple trees, the kitchen garden and countless family get-togethers held there.

In 1998 Ray and Helen retired from the farm and moved to the Parkland neighborhood of Tacoma. They joined Our Lade Queen of Heaven Catholic church and Ray joined the Knights of Columbus, achieving 4th degree in 2004. He volunteered at Trinity Food Bank and continued to work actively on projects with his children and others, even roofing a house in 2011.

His family was his greatest joy. Ray had the reputation as a man who could fix anything and often did. Ray and Helen frequently travelled in their motorhome to visit family in North Dakota. At any Nelson family function the sound of dice and pencils would reveal where Ray was playing 10,000 with his kids and grandkids, their husbands and wives. He probably has the table set and the dice ready.

Ray is survived by the love of his life, Helen Johanna (nee Eback) Nelson, his eight children; Raymond Nelson, Audrey Thomas, LeRoy Nelson, Gary Nelson, Richard Nelson, Mark Nelson, Wayne Nelson and Robert Nelson; 21 grandchildren, 22 great grand children; four brothers and three sisters, Dale Nelson, Tacoma, Duane Nelson, Devils Lake, ND; Jim Nelson, Devils Lake; Chuck Nelson, Devils Lake; Kathleen Hitsman, Tacoma; Margaret Nicholas, Tacoma and Evelyn Rasmussen, Tacoma.