Obituary Record

Lester (Gus) Nelson
Died on 4/21/2004
Buried in Blair Cemetery

This long obituary is taken from the collection in the Notebook of Long Obituaries. The original newspaper article can be found in the Blair Library, Genealogy Room.

4 newspaper articles

# 1 - - Published in Pilot-Tribune, 4/27/2004


(picture) (veteran)

Lester “Gus” Nelson, 85, died April 21, 2004, at Immanuel Hospital in Omaha. Funeral services were Saturday, April 24, at First United Methodist Church in Blair.

Lester Nelson was born March 27, 1919, in Oakland to Gust W. and Julia (Anderson) Nelson. He graduated from Oakland High School in 1937 and attended Midland Lutheran College.

He served in the U.S. Army from 1943 until 1946, with overseas duty in Europe from 1944 through 1945. In August, 1946, he and his brother, Emery, started a men’s clothing business in Blair called Nelson Bros. Clothiers, which they operated for 38 years.

On June 1, 1947, he married Charis Axelson in Oakland.

Mr. Nelson was a member of the First United Methodist Church. He served as president of the Nebraska-Iowa Men’s and Boy’s Apparel-Club; was a commander of both the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars; and was a life member of both organizations. He was also Passe Chef-de-Gare of 40 & 8 Voiture 1018 in 1968.

He served as the Washington County Veteran’s Service Officer for 12 years, retiring in 1991. In 1990, he was awarded the American Legion National Citation for Meritorious Service, and had received many district, state and national awards for Americanism and Membership citations.

His community service activities included the Blair Chamber of Commerce; chairman of the Park Board; president of the Blair Country Club; member of the Blair Rotary Club and Eagles; and he was an announcer for “Blair On-The-Air” of KHUB radio station. He loved Husker football and was a season ticket holder for 52 years.

He co-chaired the drive to raise funds to promote the bond addition to the Washington County Courthouse, which was successful. That addition now houses the new offices of the County Clerk, treasurer and Assessor.

Mr. Nelson was also instrumental in the completion of the “Avenue of Flags” at the Blair Cemetery. Upon completion of that project, he initiated and led the project to line all the main cemetery driveways with additional flags. With the financial support of the American Legion, VFW and Blair Cemetery, more than 85 flags are now flown on Memorial Day.

He also spearheaded a drive for the completion of the monument and flagpole at Veterans Memorial Field in Blair. Completion of that project was realized through individual contributions as well as from the American Legion. Mr. Nelson’s hope was to memorialize and honor all deceased war veterans from Washington County by flying their casket flags, as donated by their families.

He is survived by his wife, Charis; sons and daughters-in-law, Randy and Debbie Nelson of Kennard, Nebraska; Marshall and Lynda Nelson of Blair; daughter and son-in-law, Leslie and Mark Janky of Omaha; six grandchildren and their families; a great-granddaughter; brother, Merlin W. Nelson of Oakland; and sister-in-law, Patricia Nelson of Blair.

He was preceded in death by his brothers, G. Vincent and J. Emery Nelson; and a grandson, Brett Philip Nelson.

Memorials are suggested to the First United Methodist Church of Blair; Grace United Methodist Church of Kennard; and Crowell Memorial Home in Blair.

Moser Memorial Chapel in Fremont was in charge of arrangements.

# 2 - - Omaha World-Herald, April 23, 2004

NELSON - - Lester “Gus”, age 85 yrs, Blair. Former Washington County Veterans Service Officer. Survived by wife, Charis; sons and daughters-in-law, Randy and Debbie, of Kennard, Marshall and Lynda of Blair; daughter and son-in-law, Leslie and Mark Janky, Omaha; 6 grandchildren, Jason and wife Cindy, Katarina, Chase, Natalie, Zachary and Alexandra; great-granddaaughter, Marlee Marie; brother, Merlin Nelson, Oakland; sister-in-law, Patricia Nelson, Blair.

MEMORIAL SERVICE 10:30 am Sat. First United Methodist Church, Blair. NO VISITATION. Burial Blair Cemetery. Memorials to the Church.

MOSER MEMORIAL CHAPEL, Fremont, NE 402-721-4490

# 3 - - Omaha World-Herald, April 24, 2004

“GUS” NELSON SPREAD PATRIOTISM IN BLAIR by Kristi Wright, World-Herald Staff Writer

Lester “Gus” Nelson, who fought in Europe in World War II, worked to promote patriotism in his hometown.

He helped complete the Avenue of Flags at the Blair Cemetery, which flies more than 85 flags on Memorial Day. He led projects to honor veterans at Blair’s Veterans Memorial Field.

Nelson also served Washington County as its Veterans Service officer for 12 years. The American Legion recognized him with a National Citation for Meritorious Service in 1990.

Nelson was born in Oakland, Neb., and graduated from high school in 1937. He attended Midland Lutheran College in Fremont before joining the Army in 1943.

After returning from the war, he and his brother Emery started Nelson Bros. Clothiers, a men’s clothing store in Blair. The store lasted 38 years.

Nelson was a past commander of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

He married Charis A. Axelson

# 4 - - Pilot-Tribune, April 27, 2004


Blair businessman and ardent Husker football fan Lester “Gus” Nelson died peacefully last Wednesday, April 21, after a short illness.

Nelson, who, along with brother, Emery, had owned and operated Nelson Bros. Clothiers from 1946 until 1984, was also a passionate proponent for veterans. A World War II vet himself, Nelson served as Washington County’s Veterans’ Service officer for 12 years before retiring in 1991.

Ret. Lt. Col. Fred Wittlinger of Blair said Nelson was “fiercely devoted” to his fellow veterans.

“He was really a determined recruiter for the American Legion,” Wittlinger said. Wittlinger said Nelson served not only as Post Commander, but also was instrumental in the Post’s physical expansion.

Nelson was involved in the “Avenue of Flags” at the Blair cemetery, and was a driving force in the project that led to installation of American flags along the cemetery drives. But he also took a more personal interest in his fellow veterans.

Wittlinger said that Nelson attended the funerals of his fellow veterans to honor their passing.

“As soon as a veteran died, Gus made sure he got his grave marker to hold a flag,” Wittlinger said. “On Memorial Day, we put out more than 800 flags in the cemetery, and Gus was instrumental in seeing that all the veteran’s graves were decorated.” Nelson, who also served as commander of the local V.F.W. Post, and was “the number one man” in the 40 & 8, helped coordinate Memorial Day services each year.

His service to veterans was evidenced through his work as the county’s Veterans’ Service Officer.

“He did a lot for veterans in the county,” said George Jipp of Blair. “He was always helpful in seeing they got into the Veterans Hospital or that they got financial assistance if they were in dire straits, and he helped some of them get into nursing homes.”

Nelson’s son, Randy, of Kennard, said he and his father often talked about patriotism and service.

“They took a lot of pride in the fact that they defended this country,” Randy said. “They felt it was an honor, and he’s probably talked more about his love for this country than anything else. He loved to see the flag flown, and probably sold more than 200 flagpoles to people in this town. Everybody kind of knew he was the guy to go to if you needed a flag.”

Gus’ efforts in the county also took another physical form: the expansion of the courthouse facilities. Gus, along with former Blair resident, Bev Warren of Tekamah, were co-chairs of the drive to raise funds to promote the bond issue.

“I so much enjoyed working with him,” said Warren. She said together, they made numerous presentations, and that Gus was instrumental in soliciting donations from area businesses.

“He was always so friendly and cooperative in all the efforts we made together,” Warren said. “He just felt that the need for the new courthouse was worth the efforts we put forth. We have such a nice addition to our courthouse now - it was beyond belief when we started.”

In addition to his country, the county, and his family, friends remember that Gus Nelson loved Husker football. For 52 years, Gus was a season ticket holder. Wittlinger said the seats Nelson had at the stadium were right next to those once held by Wittlinger’s inlaws, so for years, the family attended football games together. After the death of Wittlinger’s wife, Gus’children were able to use the seats.

“He loved going to the games and he got all his kids going to games,” recalls Randy. “He lived and died for Big Red football. He had seen a lot of things change down there over 52 years.

Despite last year’s coaching controversy, Randy said his father was comfortable with the changes.

“He wanted to see them throw the ball,” Randy said.

However, Gus also wasn’t afraid to speak up about his beloved Huskers.

“He never hesitated to write the coaches and voice his opinions,” said Wittlinger. “He was pretty headstrong.”

#5 Funeral Leaflet

In Memory of Lester “Gus” Nelson

March 27, 1919 Oakland, Nebraska ~ April 21, 2004, Omaha, Nebraska

Memorial Service 10:30 A.M. Saturday, April 24, 2004 First United Methodist Church, Blair, Nebraska. Officiating: The Rev. Nancy Flader. Organist: Kathleen Flynn. Music Selections: “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, “I Believe”, Darna Dam, Soloist. “The Lord’s Prayer”, Duet by Tad and Dodie Eickman

United States Flag Presentation At Church by Robert Oswald

Military Graveside Service Conducted by members of V.F.W. Post #1251 and American Legion Post #154 of Blair, Nebraska

Interment: Blair Cemetery, Blair, Nebraska

Arrangements by Moser Memorial Chapel, Fremont, Nebraska

~~~Obituaries and funeral leaflet courtesy of the Nebraska Washington County Genealogical Society. Newspaper clippings and leaflets on file in the Blair, Nebraska Public Library ~~~

FindaGrave #39402218

Printed in the Washington County Pilot-Tribune on 4/21/2004