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Keith Nelson - May 22, 2012


Keith K. Nelson was born to Earle and Audrey Nelson Aug. 20, 1924 in Sterling. He was the second child, with three sisters. He died May 22, 2012.

Keith spent his childhood on the family farm in Fleming that was homesteaded by Andrew Nelson, who left Sweden in 1895 because of a famine. He also lived in Paoli and Snyder while Earle worked at grain elevators to hold on to the farm in the Depression.

Keith graduated from Dailey High School in 1941. After graduation, he attended Colorado University and then chose to enlist in the Army to go to war even though he had an agricultural deferment. He joined the United States Army Seventh Division and served in the Pacific theater. He fought battles in Okinawa on Skyline Ridge and served in Korea as an occupying force.

On the island of Okinawa, he heard a terrible explosion and this was the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. It is believed that he was the first one to see the end of WWII in Okinawa. The Seventh Division was getting ready to be the first troops to invade Japan and this ended that mission. The Seventh Division was told to expect 90 percent death loss once they hit the beaches of Japan.

He was later transferred to Amherst College in Massachusetts, and was in training for West Point when the war was over. He was awarded the Bronze Star for bravery in the battles to take Okinawa back from the Japanese.

After the war, Keith attended Northeastern Junior College and the University of Denver where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in communication and radio broadcasting.

On Aug. 20, 1949 he married Wanda Mae Moncrief in Sterling. Keith and Wanda began their married life in Denver while Keith was receiving his degree from Denver University. They later moved to Holyoke, where he taught and coached for several years. After teaching in Holyoke, they moved to the family farm in Fleming.

Keith was a great teacher and enjoyed teaching English, speech and Spanish, as well as coaching. Keith taught at Fleming for over 30 years and later became the principal.

There were four boys born to Keith and Wanda: Dennis, Brett, Elon and Gary. Keith and Wanda milked Brown Swiss milk cows and raised wheat and cattle for many years on the Colorado Centennial Farm. He had an Angus cow calf operation that he was very proud of on the farm.

They were married for 40 years until Wanda’s death in 1990. Wanda was the best wife and mother ever and Keith and her boys have missed her very much. Keith stayed by her side through many years of illness.

Keith loved sports, and his favorite teams were the Detroit Tigers, Denver Broncos, Boise State Broncos and Colorado Rockies. He knew the names of all the players and all the stats of those teams.

Keith was a member of the Fleming Methodist Church that he attended regularly. He was also a member of the Fleming Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Keith was preceded in death by his wife, Wanda; parents, Earle and Audrey Nelson; two sisters, Joann Sonnenberg and Genevieve Murray; and one great-grandchild, Evelyn Nelson.

Keith is survived by one sister, Jane Plank of Tempe, Ariz.; sons and daughters-in-law, Dennis and Marla Jean Nelson of Boise, Idaho, Brett and Barbara Nelson of Atwood, Elon and Lori Nelson of Holyoke and Gary Nelson of Fleming; sisters- and brothers-in-law, Judy Schrader of Flagstaff, Ariz., Marilyn Campbell of Wray, Carol Diest of Otsego, Mich. and Kenny Moncrief of Sidney, Neb.; cousins from Malmo, Sweden, Kurt and Karin and Ingvar Christisen; 13 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren. He will be greatly missed.

The funeral service was held June 1 at Fleming United Methodist Church. Interment followed at the Haxtun Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to the United Methodist Church of Fleming.

Gerk Funeral Homes was entrusted with the arrangements.