Gina Louise (Aalgaard) Nickelotti, 52 of rural Genoa, was born the baby of the family to Lee and Randi (Hoff) Aalgaard at Gundersen Lutheran hospital on November 27, 1965. It was perhaps growing up as the baby of the family that made her so confident, free spirited and resilient. Many would say it was these traits that added time to a life ultimately taken too soon. Gina was surrounded by family and friends at the Bland Bekkedal Center for Hospice Care as her courageous fight against cancer came to an end on Thursday, October 18, 2018.
Whether it was rolling in the snow before jumping back into a hot tub while skiing in Montana with her girlfriend, or giggling like a schoolgirl during her goddaughter’s conservation speech, Gina fully embraced life. If you have ever fallen down a staircase at a wedding, gotten stuck on a ski lift, or lost on a cruise ship, Gina was your person. She was that friend who sent out a Christmas card of her and famous singer she met in Vegas because she didn’t currently have a date, loved to dress her kids in matching outfits, and who was always ready for a new adventure. Gina did things her way right up until the end, waiting to leave this world until Steve got the beans off the field.
Growing up just outside of Chaseburg, Gina attended Coon Valley and Chaseburg Elementary schools at the side of her good friend, Brenda. She had many great memories in grade school, though her free spirited side came out when she met her best friend Susan in freshman Algebra at Westby High School. The two were notorious for skipping out, wearing togas, going on random trips, and photo bombing yearbook group pictures; you may just find them featured in the 1984 yearbook Sportsmen Club photo. It was easy to say that Gina lived life with abandon.
After high school, Gina attended Western Technical College and audited courses at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse where she did her best to learn Norwegian and succeed in Aqua Aerobics. That however, was not to be, so instead she pursued her talents in the medical field. Gina found a career she enjoyed in healthcare, working for Gundersen Health Systems in a variety of positions over the years.
It was in 1989 that she met the man who would stand by her side for a lifetime. It is said that the best things are right in front of you, and Gina and Steve’s love story certainly began close to home. While out with a friend in Stoddard, Gina met Steve, who in her words was a rowdy and entertaining man. Clearly he left an impression because a few weeks after their first encounter, Gina returned to Stoddard intent on finding Steve once again. Fortunate for both, he was there and their love story became one of enduring faith and companionship. Gina always said in all of their years together, they spent only one week apart. Since then they have been inseparable, despite the challenges that would come and their love for one another serves as an inspiration for all. It really was the storybook line: girl meets boy, boy falls for girl, and next came the baby in the baby carriage. Some would think with a baby would come less adventure, but that was not Gina’s character.
Farming and family became their way of life. Together they worked to build that life on Curti Road, welcoming five children into their world. Gina’s family was her everything. There was nothing she would not do for her husband and five wonderful children. Over the years, between farming, sports, cruises, road trips in the “honeywagon” with family and friends, and hosting events on the farm including weddings for two of their daughters, they built together a legacy to be proud of. They loved and laughed, traveled and made memories to last a lifetime; yet little did they know, those memories would be what they would come to cherish most.
After hosting the 2014 Vernon County Dairy breakfast, Gina was diagnosed with Breast Cancer for the first time. She fought courageously, and through treatments and surgeries, thought she had overcome the cancer, however, on December 19, 2016, Gina found out her cancer had spread. Despite the diagnosis, the word no was not in Gina’s vocabulary and her personality was to fight with a vengeance. Never did it cross her mind that she would not fight to win. Over the years, she amazed doctors at her resilience and ability to beat the odds. If a deadline was suggested, she surpassed it. Unfortunately, deep down, Gina always felt though that she would follow in her mother’s footsteps and that instinct proved correct. Randi had passed at age 52 of cancer. Gina would have turned 53 this November.
While her passing was not sudden, nor unexpected, it is not easily accepted. Her days in the sun were cut far too short, but her exuberance for life will live on. Gina is survived by her husband, Steve; her children Alexis (Brad) Vesbach, Erica (Tyler) Theobald, Margaret, Trisha (Jordan Barr), and Paul; grandchildren Mia, Easton, Leighton and Kooper; Godchild Amanda Langrehr; sibling; and countless family members. She was fortunate to have not only been surrounded by a loving family her entire life, but to have met so many amazing individuals along her journey, all of whom she was grateful for.
Gina found solace in knowing that though her fight on earth was done, she would be reunited with those she loved. She said the first person she would visit with in heaven would be her brother-in-law Paul Nickelotti, who also was taken too soon. Other loved ones who will welcome her on the other side include her parents, Lee and Randi Aalgaard; in-laws Hank and Jean Nickelotti; nephew Lucas Klum.
Death is not a time to atone - that is for the living. For those who loved Gina, please join in a celebration of life to share the love and memories gifted to us because of her time on earth. Visitation will be held on Sunday, October 21, 2018 from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m., with a prayer service beginning at 7 p.m. at the Seland Funeral Home in Coon Valley. Rev. Meg Eiben Hoversten will officiate. Private burial will be in the Middle Coon Valley Cemetery. Online condolences may be given at selandsfuneralhome.com.
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