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Mass remembers soldier

A Fargo Shanley High School graduate killed while serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq was honored with a plaque Thursday as part of an annual celebratory Mass for the Fargo Catholic Schools Network.

Suzanne Nelson

A Fargo Shanley High School graduate killed while serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq was honored with a plaque Thursday as part of an annual celebratory Mass for the Fargo Catholic Schools Network.

The plaque, featuring an engraved photo of Staff Sgt. Andrew Nelson, will be placed in the school where students can see it daily, Superintendent Kyle Edgerton said.

"I think it's very important to our student body," he said after the Mass in the Shanley and Sullivan Middle School gymnasium. "It's one of their own."

Nelson's mother, Suzanne Nelson, said the plaque was an honor for her family and a reminder to students of the important things "they can achieve in their lives - even if they are short."

Suzanne Nelson said her son, a 2003 Shanley grad, was dedicated to making "a difference in life.

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"He had good mentors, and he became a mentor by his death," she said.

Nelson, 22, died Aug. 29 in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, of wounds he suffered during an attack by insurgent forces. He was on his third tour of duty in Iraq and had also served a tour in Afghanistan.

Two of Nelson's classmates - Adam Tehle of Durham, N.C., and Courtney Horner of Fargo - presented the plaque toward the end of the Mass, drawing a standing ovation.

Tehle said the plaque celebrates the spirit of his friend. "Just the way he lived his life; he wanted to be an example to others."

Student representatives of the five Fargo Catholic Schools Network schools presented more than $3,000 in checks to Sharon Kleeman, director of the Presentation Sisters' "Presentation Partners in Housing" program.

Kleeman said the money will help at least 20 families or individuals with rent and security deposit assistance and to help pay utility bills.

In the agency's most recent fiscal year, Kleeman said the group had requests from 611 families or individuals. Of those, 479 received financial aid, which helped keep 848 children in a home, she said.

Many of the remaining requests were helped through referrals to other agencies, she said.

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"Our numbers go up every year," she said. "Right now, we're seeing a lot of people come to us with utilities needs. It's a cold, cold winter."

People who wish to donate to the program can contact Sister Stella by phone at the Presentation Center at (701) 237-4857, Kleeman said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583

Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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