Monday, August 31, 2009

Donald Nelson July 10, 1954 - June 4, 2009

Donald Edward Nelson, son of Leon Nelson and Faye (Henry) Nelson Howard, was born July 10, 1954 in Baumholder, Germany.

He departed this life June 4, 2009 as the result of a motorcycle/pick-up accident on Old Rt. 66 West, St. Robert, Missouri, having attained the age of 54 years, 10 months and 25 days.

When Don was an infant, his father got stationed at Ft. Leonard Wood and it was here that the family made their home. Don was a 1972 graduate of Waynesville High School, and later received his Bachelor's degree in Education from Central Missouri University in Warrensburg. In 1982, he completed his Master's degree with a secondary in guidance and counseling also from CMU.

Don went to work in the Waynesville School District in 1977. During his 22 year career, he taught at Waynesville Junior High, Partridge Elementary, Wood Middle School, Williams Elementary, Waynesville High School and was currently at Freedom Elementary school. In addition to teaching physical education, Don was a guidance counselor at both the middle and high schools. He served as WHS Head Baseball Coach and also coached volleyball, track and wrestling. In 2007, Don had the distinction of being invited to attend the State Championship Coaches Alumni Association where he was presented with the Outstanding Coach Award.

Don was also one of the voices heard on KFBD/KJPW Radio. He and his friend, Marv Leuten covered both Waynesville High School baseball and football games.

Don loved everything about the outdoors. He was an avid sportsman; hunting, fishing, softball, golf, swimming, river events and motorcycle riding. He was a member of the Richland Masonic Lodge #385 AF & AM, Pulaski County/Ft. Wood Shrine Club, and the Shrine Club Motor Corps, Abou Ben Adhem, Springfield, Scottish Rite, Joplin, Freedom of the Road Riders, Local 28, and the Missouri State Teacher's Association.

Coach Nelson's family, friends, students and co-workers will miss him greatly. He is survived by his mother: Faye Howard and father: Leon Nelson both of Waynesville; two children: Kenneth Nelson of Waynesville and Stacey Cruz (SGT Amos) of San Clemente, California; four siblings: Gene Nelson (Mary) and Cheryl Nelson (Tom Brougham) all of Kansas City, Kansas and Jerry Nelson (Barbara) and Yvonna Bays (Dennis) all of Waynesville; grandson: Jaden Cruz and expecting baby Cruz; six nephews, four nieces, an uncle: John T. Henry (Virginia) of Dothan, Alabama, cousins, special friends: Marv and Terri Leuten of Laquey, other relatives and friends.

Don was preceded in death by a niece: Allise and his step-father: Joseph Howard.

Funeral services were held at 2:00 P.M. Wednesday, June 10, 2009 in the Parker Fine Arts Auditorium of Waynesville, Missouri with Doug Cage officiating. The songs "Everlasting God", "Shall We Gather at the River" and "Drift Away" were played. Serving as escorts were John Wosoba, Kenny Merrill, Terry Roberson, Charles Conley, Dave Preble, Wess Ellzey, Don Vaughn, Brian Nelson, Jim Warren, SGT Amos Cruz, Chris Cross, Joe Nelson, Lynn Bays, Eric Bays, Marv Leuten and Richard Teague.

Burial followed in the Waynesville Memorial Park Cemetery. Services were under the direction of Memorial Chapels and Crematory of Waynesville/St. Robert.

Memorial contributions may be made in memory of Don Nelson to the Don Nelson Scholarship Fund and may be left at Memorial Chapels and Crematory or the Security Bank of Pulaski County.

The family requests contributions to the Don Nelson Scholarship Fund

From The Waynesville Daily Guide
St. Robert, Mo. - Family and friends describe Donald Nelson as a person who was full of life, smiles, laughter, joy and a spirit that was contagious.
Nelson, 54, of Waynesville, an educator and sports announcer, was killed in a head-on collision on Old Route 66 late Thursday night.
According to the St. Robert Police Department, Nelson was driving west on his 2009 Harley Davidson motorcycle at about 10 p.m. Thursday. Nelson was in the passing lane entering a right hand curve near the Church of God at the same time George H. Widener, 64, of Jerome, was driving east on the road. Widener, who was in a 2006 Chevrolet Avalanche, was traveling in the west bound lanes entering the same curve, a report prepared by Officer Daniel Wogan stated.
“It was apparent that Mr. Nelson did not see the approaching vehicle nor did Mr. Widener realize that he was traveling in the wrong direction when both vehicles collided head-on,” a press release from Sgt. Butch Hohman stated.
Nelson was pronounced dead at the scene by Pulaski County Coroner Mikel Hartness.
Widener was not injured in the accident and was taken to the St. Robert Police Department where charges are pending.
The 22-year veteran of the Waynesville R-VI School District began his career with the district in 1977 at Waynesville Junior High and Partridge schools. Nelson left the district in 1979 for another position, but returned a decade later to continue what he started — teaching and coaching.
“On behalf of the Waynesville R-VI School District, our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Don Nelson. Don will be deeply missed throughout the district, especially at Freedom Elementary School in St. Robert where he was currently serving as a physical education teacher,” Superintendent Judene Blackburn said. “Throughout the years, Don has served in positions of teaching physical education, guidance and counseling at the middle school and high school levels, and involved in our coaching arena of baseball, wrestling, volleyball and track. From these assignments he has touched and mentored many young lives in our area. Our district is lessened by the loss of this teacher and friend.”
Mike Morriss, Freedom Elementary School principal, shared that in both the classroom and life, Nelson had a good time.
“Coach always had fun with the students in his class, just like he enjoyed having fun in life,” Morriss said. “His expectations for students were for them to be physically fit and enjoy physical activity for life. Coach followed the accomplishments of his students through school and through life. Coach Nelson will truly be missed by his Freedom Family.”
Nelson’s impact in the community went past his role as educator, coach and mentor, though.
An active member of both the Freedom of Road Riders— Local 28 in Waynesville and the Pulaski County Shrine Club, Nelson, who’s fondly referred to as “Coach”, leaves behind an extended family who could always count on him.
“Don Coach Nelson was a member in good standing of Freedom of Road Riders— Local 28, Waynesville,” a prepared statement from the Freedom of Road Riders read. “Coach was a son, father and a brother among many other things. Coach was a well respected member of the community and has taught many of our children as a member of the Waynesville School District. Coach will always be remembered for his great sense of humor, huge smile and uncanny ability to bring a smile to the faces of those in his presence. This tragedy has created a great void in our community, our organization and our personal lives. Ride in peace Coach, you will forever live within our hearts.”
Forrest Maxey, Pulaski County Shrine Club manger and shrine trustee, said Nelson, who’d been a Shriner for about five years, was one of the best volunteers the club has ever had.
“He’s done more for our club than most people in our community can understand,” Maxey said. “He was a great help. He never turned down a task. He was always willing to do whatever he could to help and, of course, it was always about the children. He will be greatly missed.”
Those closest to Nelson will always remember him as an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan and as a “trouble maker.”
“Every time we always get together he’d always cause some mischief,” Joseph Nelson, one of his nephews, said. “It was always a real riot around him. He was a funny guy, but he was serious when he needed to be.”
Nelson leaves behind his mother, Faye Howard of Waynesville; his father, Leon Nelson of Buckhorn; a son, Kenny Nelson of Waynesville; a daughter, Stacey Cruz and her husband Amos Cruz, of San Clemente, Calif.; two grandchildren: Jaden Cruz and expected baby Cruz;, two sisters: Cheryl Nelson and her fiance Tom Brougham, of Kansas City, Kan., and Yvonna Bays and her husband Denny of Buckhorn; two brothers: Gene Nelson and his wife Mary, of Kansas City, Kan., and Jerry Nelson and his wife Barbara, of Waynesville; six nephews: Chris Cross and his fiance Tara; Joseph Nelson; John Nelson; Bryan Nelson; Eric Bays and Lynn Nelson; four nieces: Lindsey Shepard, Dina, Adrianne Nelson and Brittany Nelson and her fiance Jake; 11 great-nieces and nephews; special friends Marv and Terri Luten; and many other friends, colleagues and students.

*George H Widener, served apx. 4 months in prison and then resumed playing golf in and around Dixon.  

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