Thelma Paulson

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Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2019 10:14 pm

Thelma Ovedia Paulson, 87, of Maddock, N.D., passed away on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019 at Valley Park in Grand Forks, N.D. The funeral service was held at 1 p.m. Saturday Jan. 26, 2019, at the Viking Lutheran Church in rural Maddock, N.D. with Pastor Allen Campbell officiating. Burial will be held at the Viking Lutheran Cemetery in the spring. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred, to the Viking Lutheran Church: 5161 31st Street NE Maddock, N.D. 58348.

Thelma was born March 29, 1931, on a farm west of Maddock, to her parents Minnie (Hagen) and Walter Vikander. She attended grade school in Rich Valley Township and Eldon Township, as well as in rural Warwick, N.D. Thelma attended Benson Country Agricultural and Training School, graduating from there in 1949. She then taught school for one year near Heaton, N.D. Thelma was united in marriage to Arland Paulson on Oct. 21, 1950, in Maddock. To this couple five sons were born: Arlie, Lanny, Hal, Clark and Jaimy. Minnie Vikander later remarried Harold Nelson, and they had a son named Wayne, who is Thelma’s half-brother. Arland and Thelma farmed southeast of Maddock from 1950 to 1987, on the original Paulson homestead farm.

In the summer of 1978, Thelma and Arland traveled to Norway, and spent three weeks visiting with relatives, researching their ancestries, and exploring the country. This was very meaningful to them. Meeting with their relatives was a great joy to Thelma and Arland. Many years later, some of these same relatives traveled to North Dakota to visit them. 

While growing up on the farm, her grandmother told her about NISSEN, from Norwegian folklore. She told Thelma that they were around the farm, and helped out by closing gates, and helping to find things that were lost. She told her that they were about a foot tall, and were very kind. When Thelma traveled to Norway, she tried to buy some dolls that looked like NISSEN, but she could not find any of them there.

So after returning from Norway, Thelma decided to make a soft sculpture NISSEN doll for herself, since she was very artistic and talented in sewing, and working with fabric. When she showed this doll to others, they liked it very much, so she decided to make the dolls at her home, as a business.

For the next 20 years, Thelma was self-employed at this craft business she created, selling NISSEN throughout the USA in all 50 states, in Norway, and in many other foreign countries. None of the dolls were identical, and each of them was given a Norwegian name. Thelma has made many thousands of them over her life. To sell the dolls, Thelma had been a participant of the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, the Hostfest in Minot, N.D., the Hjemkost Festival in Moorhead, Minn., the Nordic Fest in Decorah, Iowa, as well as many other types of shows over the past many years. 

 She served for six years on the Maddock School Board, during the time of building the new school facility. And she was a lifetime member of the Viking Lutheran Church south of Maddock.

Thelma is survived by her sons, Lanny Paulson of Bismarck, Hal Paulson of Maddock, Clark (Tammi) Paulson of Hillsboro, N.D. and Jaimy (Susan Pearson) Paulson of Grand Forks, N.D.; grandchildren, Zane Paulson, Mindi (Paulson) and Doug Lill, Cayle (Ashleyanna) Paulson, Aaron Abrahamson, and Isaiah Pearson; grand-children, Ezekiel Jake Lill, Huxley Clark Paulson, and Bausten Joe Paulson; step-brother, Wayne (Marla) Nelson; step-niece and nephew, Jason and Jessica.

Thelma was preceded in death by her husband Arland; son Arlie, and her parents.

Online condolences may be left at

The Nelson Funeral Home of Maddock is in charge of the arrangements.

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