George “Bub” Nelson, Jr., Lutsen Ski Area founder

Passing Date: 
Friday, May 9, 2014

George Urban Nelson, Jr., founder of the Lutsen Ski Area in Minnesota, died May 9, 2014, after a long battle with cancer. He was 88.

Bub Nelson grew up on the north shore of Lake Superior, at the summer resort operated on land his grandparents homesteaded in the 19th century. In 1943, when he turned 18, he volunteered for the 10th Mountain Division, trained at Camp Hale, Colorado, and fought in the Appenine campaign in Italy.

Upon returning to Lutsen, Nelson earned a degree in hotel management at Michigan State University, and talked the family into developing the hill behind the resort for alpine skiing. Together, George Nelson Sr. and Jr. winterized the existing lodge and directed trail-clearing. They opened a rope tow in 1948, serving two runs. Nelson, with his wife Patti, supervised the ski area’s steady growth over four decades. They raised three daughters: Olympic medalist Cindy Nelson, and the twins Traci and Terri Nelson.

The family sold the resort in 1988. Nelson remained a partner in the Lutsen Development Co., operating hotel properties. He is survived by his wife and daughters and four grandchildren. —Seth Masia