Although he was tall in stature, it was the character of Nels Goodmann that made him someone to look up to. He was the sort of person who led by example, and he did it with a smile. A loving husband and devoted father, Nels exemplified what love really is during his wife’s time of greatest need. He took his role as a father to heart, but there was nothing like becoming a grandfather in his book. Nels was generous beyond measure as he was willing to help others in whatever way he could. Life will never be the same without him here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.
Nels and Irene Goodmann Sr. announced the birth of the baby boy they named Nels M. on February 8, 1928. He was the youngest of three children as he was raised in the Mitchell Street neighborhood of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Joined in the Goodmann clan by his brother, Robert, and his sister, Dorothy, Nels was a typical young boy of his generation. His father worked as a police officer for the city of Milwaukee while his mother was a busy homemaker. Tragedy struck in the Goodmann family when his father was killed in the line of duty when Nels was only nine years old. Nels became an All American swimmer at Bay View High School, and during the summer he was often lifeguarding in the Milwaukee Park System. While growing up he developed many lifelong friendships. While in high school Nels couldn’t help but notice a fellow classmate named Lois Wolfsen while in geometry class. Several years later he said that he knew it was “the beginning of forever.”
With his high school education behind him, Nels was ready for all that life had in store. From 1947 through 1948, he served in the United States Army with the 11th airborne division / 188th paratroop infantry and was stationed in Japan. Following the service, Nels received a swimming scholarship and swam for the University of Wisconsin.
Following his education Nels was poised for a successful career. He spent three years working at Allis Chalmers and was then hired as production control supervisor at Pressed Steel Tank Co. There, he was transferred to sales, later becoming Vice President of sales and eventually rising to the President. Nels was then hired as vice president of product development at Coyne Cylinders in Huntsville, Alabama. He spent his final seven years working as a consultant at Structural Composite Industries (SCI). Throughout his career he spent more than 40 years working in the compressed air cylinder manufacturing business before retiring in 1993.
Not to be forgotten during his years as a young man was the blossoming romance between Nels and Lois. They fell deeply in love, and with a desire to spend the rest of their lives together they were married on April 5, 1952 at Ascension Lutheran Church. They were lifelong members there, and Nels served as treasurer for many years. Nels and Lois lived in Wauwatosa for over 30 years before relocating to Brookfield, and together they raised two daughters, Nancy who was born in 1953 and Mary Beth who was born on Nels’ birthday in 1956. Nels treasured spending time with his family, and some of their best memories were made on vacations spent in Door County. He also spent time in Florida and Sun City West, Arizona, where he and Lois had a second home.
Throughout his life Nels was a man of many interests. He was an avid golfer and bird hunter with his great friend of over 70 years, Lloyd Leder. He enjoyed watching the Green Bay Packers and the Wisconsin Badgers. Nels rarely just watched, however, as he usually had several bets on the games going with friends. Nels loved playing cards, especially Sheepshead. He also loved smoking his cigars. Nels was an accomplished watercolor painter, creating many pictures and cards for loved ones. As someone who loved seeing new places and making new friends, Nels was a world traveler.
Later in life Nels experienced both peaks and valleys. As Lois struggled with Alzheimer’s disease in the last 10 years of her life, Nels took on the role of caregiver.
He was completely selfless, and there has never been a more loving and devoted caregiver. Nels instilled such strong family values in his daughters and grandchildren; this really held true when he was caring for his beloved wife. Although it was a bit of a struggle, Nels was so thrilled to attend his grandson Eric’s wedding just this past October 15th.
All who knew Nels Goodmann would agree that there was no one who met him and left unchanged. He was an easygoing, glass half full kind of man who never had an unkind word to say about anything. A true gentleman if ever there was one, Nels made it his mission in life to give more than he received. With his great sense of humor and common sense, he was one of the wisest people around. The love he had for his family was easy to see, and he and his wife exemplified what marriage is truly intended to be. Deeply loved, he will be forever missed.
Nels M. Goodmann found peace November 6, 2016. Nels is survived by his children, Nancy (Chris) Olson and Mary Beth Kramer; grandchildren, Eric (Sara) Olson, Kara (Jason Haynes) Olson, Drew Olson, Sarah Beth (Nathan Hanreus) Kramer and Max Kramer; and other relatives and many friends. Nels was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Lois R. Goodmann (nee Wolfsen). Family and friends will gather Friday, November 11, 2016, at Ascension Lutheran Church 1236 S. Layton Blvd. from 10:30 a.m. until time of the Memorial Service at 11:30 a.m. In lieu of flowers memorials to the Alzheimer’s Association of Southeastern Wisconsin or Ascension Lutheran Church Endowment Fund.
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