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Tree falls on house killing Grand Forks business owners

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San Diego firefighters respond to a home where two people were killed when the structure was crushed under the weight of a toppled pine tree. Photo by Sam Hodgson / San Diego Union-Tribune. 2 / 4
Jessica Nelson. Photo courtesy of Trojan Promotions. 3 / 4
Troy Nelson. Photo courtesy of Trojan Promotions. 4 / 4

Two Grand Forks business owners died Monday in an accident while they were visiting San Diego.

Jessica and Troy Nelson, owners of Trojan Promotions, died when a tree fell onto the house they were renting, Troy’s sister Tammy Reynolds confirmed. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the 75-foot tree fell around 6:15 a.m., local time.

“They were just two peas in a pod,” Reynolds said. “It is such a peace for us that they went together.”

Krisi Lund, the senior production manager for Trojan Promotions, said Jessica and Troy were attending an industry trade show in the area.

The Union-Tribune reported a third person was inside the house at the time but escaped. Reynolds said that person was Jessica’s brother, Ryan Langerud.

She described her brother and sister-in-law as very kind and loving.

“They would give without expecting anything in return,” Reynolds said.

When Reynolds had back surgery, Troy picked her up from the hospital and took care of her, calling on her to make sure she was OK.

“And Jess was right there on the sidelines cheering on my recovery,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds said she and her older brother were best friends growing up.

“He was just a big brother protector. He always watched out for me and included me,” Reynolds said. “And that’s just something I’m really going to miss.”

Jessica and Troy were not just owners of a business, but worked alongside their employees and treated them with generosity, Lund said.

“They poured their heart and soul into everything that they did, and this business was one of those things,” Lund said. “They built this business and this is the most wonderful business. They were so good to all of us.”

Troy’s father started Nelson Business Forms, and Troy began working there in 1990. In 2007, Troy and Jessica made Trojan Promotions a separate entity from Nelson Business forms.

Laura Endres, who works for Newman Outdoor Advertising, did business with Jessica and Troy. She said that the couple was very involved in the business community of Grand Forks.

“They did a really good job taking a business that (Troy’s father) started and turning it into something amazing,” Endres said. “It was going to lead to great things.”

Lund had worked with Jessica and Troy since 2008 and said they had become more like family than friends.

“We’re all having a hard time here today,” Lund said. “They were wonderful people. They were dog lovers, they were outdoors lovers.”

Jessica and Troy had a dog named Stella, who Lund said was the love of their lives.

“Who’s going to tell Stella? She lost her mom and dad,” Reynolds said.

Jessica and Troy lived outside of Thompson, N.D., on what Lund said Jessica called “their farm.”

“They loved life,” Lund said. “And they loved living out in the country.”

After moving to the “farm,” Endres said Jessica talked about having quite a few animals.

“I think animals in general were big part of their future and what they wanted it to be,” Endres said.

Lund said Jessica and Troy were devoted to their business and employees.

“They really were family to me, we all worked so hard to make the company into what it is,” Lund said.

Trojan Promotions was closed on Monday, according to the company’s Facebook page.

Kristi Hall-Jiran, chief philanthropy officer at Altru Health, met Jessica through her work at the Grand Forks Women’s Fund, a component of the Community Foundation promoting programs that invest in women and girls.   

Hall-Jiran and Jessica were both founding members of the Women’s Fund.

“Jessica had a big heart and an infectious laugh,” Hall-Jiran said. “She was definitely a ‘do-er.’ ”

Hall-Jiran said Jessica was always striving to “make her corner of the world a little brighter” and was very generous with her time and resources.

Reynolds said her brother and sister-in-law gave much of themselves to those around them.

“This is not only a huge loss for my family, but a huge loss for the Grand Forks community,” Reynolds said.

Bonnie Meibers

Meibers joined the Herald in September of 2018. She reports on all things business in Grand Forks and the surrounding areas. Have a tip or want to get to know her? Call her at (701) 780-1114 or email her at bmeibers@gfherald.com.

(701) 780-1114