There's No Place Like Home

Giving Back to the North Park Family That Has Given Them So Much

Dr. Timothy Nelson C’74, the son of an Evangelical Covenant Church pastor who spent most of his career in the U.S. Army as a chaplain, was born in Aberdeen, Maryland, but his family moved all over Germany and the US throughout his childhood. Linda Nelson C’75, the daughter of missionaries to Japan, was born in Youngstown, Ohio, but spent most of her childhood in Japan. Though both have ties to Youngstown and their families knew one another, it was at North Park University that Tim and Linda found each other, and this is the place they consider to be their first real home. Linda says, “We’ve both always said that home is wherever we are, and North Park is the first place we were together.”

During her first semester at North Park, Linda found herself in Music 101 with Tim. “I went to the library to do my listening for the class,” she says, “and all the record players were taken, so I asked Tim if I could listen with him.” Tim says, “I knew who she was, and she knew who I was. I think we were listening to ‘Water Music’.” The Nelsons got married after Linda graduated, and this year, they celebrated their 35th anniversary. Both regard their time at North Park as some of the most memorable and enjoyable years of their lives.

Today an oral and maxillofacial surgeon in Longview, Washington, Tim credits North Park’s biology department with providing a uniformly excellent education. “North Park prepared me very well to be accepted into dental school, and go on to have a wonderful career as an oral surgeon.” Linda put Tim through dental school working as head nurse in a medical unit at Rush University, later worked in a step-down unit in Ohio, and was promoted to head nurse within six months of beginning work as a staff nurse in Portland. She says, “I have North Park to thank for giving me the skills, training, and confidence to move up the ranks quickly.”

Tim participated in student government as sophomore class president, senator, and elections chairman, played on the golf team, and took active part in fellowship activities. Linda participated in University Choir and Gospel Teams, and has fond memories of choir tour. “These were formative years for us,” she says. Tim adds, “We’ve talked about how our four years at North Park really stand out as significant and very special. My time at North Park helped make me who I am.” Linda agrees, saying, “It’s always wonderful to go back to campus because it’s like going home.”

“In supporting North Park, we feel that we can really make a difference,” continues Tim, who recently completed a term on North Park’s board of trustees, and serves on the executive committee for the President’s Club. “We enjoy having an ongoing relationship with the president, deans, and professors at North Park.” Many of the Nelsons’ predecessors attended North Park, and two of their daughters are carrying on the tradition. Katrina C’2004 and Linnea C’2007 both studied nursing, and like Linda, both met their husbands at North Park. Katrina married Bryan Phelan C’2003 S’2009 and earned her master’s degree in nursing, and Linnea married Sean Welander C’2008 and is completing a graduate program in nursing. Their son Eric attended Pepperdine University and now works in management for Target.

North Park University has been a source of learning, laughter, and love for the entire Nelson family, and that is why it has always felt like home and they continue to offer their support in so many different ways. “And who knows?” Tim ponders. “Perhaps our grandchildren will someday carry on the legacy.”