CLYDE — When Marion Nelson passed away in January 2018, she left behind a colorful legacy that spanned decades, along with an amazing collection of artifacts and textiles she personally hand-picked from her travels to India, Nepal, Indonesia and beyond.
Friends remember Nelson, the founder and owner of Global View, an import shop that features her various finds, as caring and one-of-a-kind; they have also promised to continue her vision through the end of October, keeping Global View open for one final season.
Nelson was born in Hector, Minn., graduating from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn. In 1959 with degrees in art and English. She married her classmate, Duane Nelson, and the couple moved to Naperville, Ill. Nelson taught various subjects but mainly taught English there; she retired early from teaching due to a disabling medical condition, but it wasn’t the end for Nelson.
In 1968, she and her husband bought land in the town of Clyde in rural Iowa County; Nelson’s husband began remodeling a large barn on the property, converting part of it into living and office spaces, as well as space for Nelson to operate her import shop, Global View.
While her travels were initially motivated by her illness, as she sought alternative treatments for her medical condition, they also became missions to purchase goods and wares directly from the artisans who created the pieces. It was “fair trade before fair trade,” her friend and travel companion Kim Hammer once said.
Eventually, Nelson and her husband were able to sponsor practitioners to come to Global View to offer healing arts on the premises and host other visitors, whether they be craftspeople, artists or Tibetan monks. Nelson also led tours herself overseas, introducing numerous people to new places, unique art and diversity.
And if she couldn’t bring those people to Global View physically, she’d certainly bring their stories, sharing them with all who visited her special shop in the rolling hills of rural Iowa County.
“Most of her life was made up of annual trips to Asia,” said Kjerstin Bell, a friend of Nelson’s who can be found at the shop this summer.
Bell grew up down the road from Global View, and her mother also worked in the shop for Nelson for some time. One of her favorite memories can be traced back to a huge Indian festival that was held on the grounds of Global View in the 1980s.
“Marion had an incredibly varied and well-traveled life; she had a sense of humor and was a great storyteller,” Bell said. “Duane was like that too. They both found joy in the simple things in life.”
Bryan and Fanou Walton are also neighbors of Global View, crossing paths with Nelson in 1978 as she was browsing handicrafts while they were living in Auroville, a community off the coast of southeastern India. The Waltons returned to the United States and visited Nelson — and although they had no particular vision to stay in the River Valley area, they ended up staying anyway.
The Waltons helped Nelson establish her shop, providing her with ideas to sell items after returning from numerous trips overseas. Nelson’s husband also went to work completing the renovation of the old barn on the property, wildly expanding the space so she could bring more items back.
Bell remembered Nelson filling shipping crates with items of weight, such as stone Buddhas and Indonesian furniture, to fill the four winding floors of the barn shop. One hundred percent of what kept Global View going was the sheer determination of Nelson, she said.
Keeping that determination in mind, friends and volunteers have been pitching in around Global View, opening the shop Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by special appointment, to allow visitors to browse the remaining items in Nelson’s collection. Friends, acquaintances and visitors that have, at one time or another, stumbled across the unique shop, are encouraged to stop by and purchase their own mementos to celebrate and remember the life of Nelson, who sometimes was referred to as “Mother of the Universe.”
“She has met so many different people,” Bell said. “It was one of her joys — connecting with people all over the world.”
Several events have been planned for Global View’s final season, including a Drum Circle on Saturday, June 15, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and free Reiki Sharing on Saturday, June 22 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friends also hope to organize one final festival, either an Indonesian or Tibetan festival, as these events were long-standing and enjoyed by many over the years.
Global View is at 6593 Clyde Road, Spring Green. Inquiries can be directed to 608-583-5311; curious visitors may also find Global View on Facebook by searching @globalviewshop.