Memory of woman killed in 9/11 attacks lives on at Concordia Language Villages


"Learn a foreign language," reads an entry in a "top 100" list of life goals left behind by Ann Nicole Nelson, a North Dakota woman killed in the Sept. 11 attacks.

This and many others would ultimately go unfulfilled, but Nelson's spirit and passion for learning will live on at the Concordia Language Villages near Bemidji, where her parents dedicated a memorial garden to her on Friday.

It was a place she loved visiting, traveling from her hometown of Stanley, North Dakota, to attend Skogfjorden, the Norwegian Village, for six summers as a teenager, the Bemidji Pioneer reports.

The paper says the garden has seven multi-colored circles of paver stones, which symbolize the Seven Sisters mountain range in Norway, and virtues that "people should look to possess in their lives."

Nelson was a bond broker for Cantor Fitzgerald, an investment firm that occupied the upper floors of One World Trade Center, according to her memorial site. She was 30.

The Concordia Language Villages is an educational "camp" in which attendees – who are referred to as "villagers" – are immersed in the culture of the language they're studying, including eating ethnic dishes and listening to music, the official website says.

The goal is to give villagers a deeper understanding of any of the 15 languages Concordia offers.

Over the years, the Villages have gained quite the reputation and a long list of distinguished visitors, including the ambassadors of several European nations. According to Concordia, Chelsea Clinton and film director Alexander Payne are among notable former villagers.

A lasting legacy

The memorial garden is the latest effort by Nelson's parents to realize many of the dreams their daughter wrote down in her "top 100" list but didn't live to fulfill.

A few years after their daughter's death, Gary and Jenette Nelson discovered the list on her work laptop, which was given to them after the World Trade Center attacks, according to a piece in the New York Times.

One of the entries, "buy a home in North Dakota," came to fruition last year with the opening of Annie's House in the Bottineau Winter Park ski area, KXNews reports.

According to its website, Annie's House provides an "integrated, adaptive ski facility" to accommodate disabled children and young adults.

In 2003, Minot State University rededicated its performance venue as Ann Nicole Nelson Hall after her parents gave the school a "gracious gift" in their daughter's name.

Ann Nelson attended MSU, though later graduated from Carleton College, her website says.

Next Up

sean peterson hopkins

Mom of man killed in Hopkins says son died in her arms

He was fatally shot on Sunday night at the apartment building where he lived.

Screen Shot 2021-10-20 at 6.42.51 AM

Boy, 15, undergoes surgery after being shot near south Mpls. park

The 15-year-old was transported to HCMC and was taken into surgery.

i-94 crash st. michael - 2021.10.19

Maple Grove man ID'd as victim of fatal crash on I-94

That side of the freeway was closed for a few hours on Tuesday afternoon.

Joel Eriksson Ek

Eriksson Ek's hat trick completes Wild's rally over Jets

A late review helped the Wild win their home opener.

Screen Shot 2021-10-19 at 8.11.35 PM

Watch: Marcus Foligno starts fight with a superman punch

Foligno was not messing around in the first period.

Union Gospel Mission graffiti side by side - Duluth PD

Vandals target longstanding Duluth soup kitchen, transitional housing site

Union Gospel Mission has been operating in the city since 1922.

House for sale

The crazy Twin Cities housing market is showing signs of slowing down

Agents are seeing fewer multiple offers and no inspections are less prevalent.

Ben Simmons

Simmons' reunion with 76ers lasts mere days, chance for Wolves?

Woj says the Sixers remain "steadfast" in their plans for Simmons.

mitchell ottinger

Sub teacher involved in 'sextortion' of more than 10 minors pleads guilty

Some of the minors he knew from the school district where he worked.

flickr ice castles new brighton 2020 - Greg Gjerdingen

The Ice Castles, a winter favorite, are coming back to the Twin Cities

The popular attraction was canceled last winter due to COVID.

joey meatballs

4 new vendors coming to Rosedale's POTLUCK food hall

Three restaurants and a VR company are opening soon.

flickr - Lorie Shaull - Line 3 pipeline Palisade July 2021

Enbridge misses deadline to fix its groundwater blunder

The company had 30 days to stop the leak it caused by not following its submitted plans.


Ojibwe language being featured throughout Bemidji

Signs with Native American words like, "boozhoo," "aakoziiwigamigoons" or "wisiniiwagmig" are cropping up around the northern Minnesota town. MinnPost reports the signage is part of a broader effort to preserve the language.

Thousands trek to unlikely 9/11 memorial in small-town Minnesota

A 10-foot, 600-pound rusted steel beam from the World Trade Center sits at the center of a 9/11 memorial in Marshall, Minn., and in the year since it was established, it has become a quiet place of reflection, the Star Tribune reports. A prayer service is scheduled at the spot Tuesday to mark the 11-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., far from the town of 14,000.