Ann Nelson did go far from her small town roots in Stanley, N.D., population 1,000. She started by convincing her parents Gary and Jenette to send her to Wayland Academy, 12 hours away. "Her dad and I didn't want her to go to Wayland," Jenette Nelson said. But calls from teachers and friends Ann quickly made helped convince the couple it was the right thing to do. After high school, Nelson graduated with honors from Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. with a double major in Economics and Political Science. "She was a very hard worker," Jenette Nelson said. She added, "Ann loved adventures." While at Carleton she studied abroad in Cambridge, England and China. She quickly landed a job as a bond trader with Dain Rauscher in Minneapolis, eventually moving to Chicago working for the same firm. A sense that it was time for a change led Nelson to resign her position and embark on a solo backpacking trip in Peru in 2000. She returned from the trip with her sights set on New York. Landing a job at Cantor Fitzgerald as a bond broker allowed her to realize that dream. She worked on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center Tower One.
Patterson didn't know Nelson was working in New York at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks. Like everyone, he had seen the news reports of the attacks on the World Trade Center. He was informed where Nelson worked the day after the attack by Dr. Bill Ellis, a former Wayland Academy president. Ellis had seen Nelson's father Gary in New York while attending a conference a short time prior to September. "It really came as a blow," Patterson said. "Once I had heard this, it was very hard to go back to class." It still is hard for Patterson to talk about Nelson and her death. He doesn't like to view the actual attack. "What bothers me is that when I see that, immediately I think of Ann and I think of her on the top floors," Patterson said. "I don't object to being reminded of this, because I think we need to be reminded." Jenette Nelson agrees. "I do think it's important to keep Ann's memory alive,"Jenette Nelson said. To do this, she has been speaking to small local groups about peaceful conflict resolution. That is also the topic of a class she is teaching this year. On Sept. 11 she spoke in Bismarck, N.D. at a ceremony at the state capitol. "There has to be some good to the way Ann died," Jenette Nelson said, "because we paid such a terrible price."
Wayland Academy dedicated a bench in front of the school's library as a memorial to Ann Nelson in a ceremony on Oct. 11.