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The Golden Link Senior Center’s Experienced Americans for July 2021 are Cliff & Alayne Nelson. The couple has been married for 61 years and has lived in Crookston on Sunshine Avenue for over 35 years.
Alayne was born and raised in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and learned the art of crafting and sowing from family at a young age. “My dad was a tailor for Wilson’s clothing store, and my mom and sister were also tailers, so I learned crafting from them,” said Alayne. On the other hand, Cliff was born out west and came back to the area as a young child. “I was born in Portland, Oregon, and came back to this area as an infant,” said Cliff. “I grew up on a farm in East Grand Forks, and upon graduating High School, I enlisted into the Navy and spent four years with them.”
The couple met in East Grand Forks while Cliff was working for an electric company following his time spent in the Navy. The couple got married in 1960 and have been together ever since. The couple raised a family together with three children and love spending time with them whenever possible. Though all their kids were born around Crookston, their oldest is Charles, who currently lives out in Virginia; they have another son named Clayton, who lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and a daughter Cathy who still resides in Crookston.
However, the couple has not always lived in Crookston themselves either. “We were married in 1960 and moved out to Seattle, Washington in the early ’60s,” said Cliff. “I went to work for an aircraft company and helped develop the 747 airplane. In ‘71, they had a big layoff, and I got laid off, so we moved back here to the valley, and I went to work for RiverView hospital.”
Since then, Cliff has had a variety of jobs until he retired in 1992. He has been picking up odd jobs while collecting retirement since. Alayne has worked a variety of different jobs as well over the years. “I did daycare for a while in Auburn, Washington when we were out there,” Alayne said. “I also worked for Ben Franklin store when we came back here, and eventually went to Great Plains Natural Gas Company where I was for 34 years.”
Both love to be outside and have a fair share of hobbies that they keep busy with nowadays. “I enjoy sewing, crafting, flower gardening, and being outside doing yard work,” said Alayne. Cliff likewise enjoys being outside and finding different ways to stay busy. “I also enjoy gardening and woodworking,” said Cliff. “I actually hired some people to help and built our house, including the deck and everything else with the original design. Now I’m down to smaller items such as wood carving and making small toys and such.”
Both are honored with the award and didn’t think they were going to be considered for it. “Well, it’s quite the honor, as well as a surprise,” said Cliff. We are not the kind of couple that likes to be in the limelight.” Alayne added, saying, “We’re more of the behind-the-scenes people, but it’s very nice for them to see what we’ve done and to be recognized,” she said. “We don’t do any of these jobs or things without help, and it’s always a group of people that accomplish them.”
Cliff & Alayne are a great representation of what it looks like to live a full life together with your loved ones. They are both grateful that people in the community see them as such. Alayne ended by saying, “Just thank you again for the award; it feels great to be recognized,” to which Cliff said, “Dito what she said.”
There will be a reception held for the couple at the Golden Links on Friday, July 23, from 1: 30-3: 00 p.m.
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