Robert L. (Bob) Nelson died Sunday, March 14, 2021 at 3:06 PM in Wichita, KS, surrounded by his loving family. He was born May 28, 1927 near Cherryvale, KS to Roy and Marie Fiechtl Nelson on a day when Marie was busy picking and canning cherries. Every birthday he had a birthday pie made with the cherries preserved that day, until the supply ran out as he became a teenager. Bob was the third child and first son born to the family, eventually a brother and two more sisters followed.
The family moved to a farm near Humboldt, KS when Bob was 8 and began operating Nelson Dairy. Bob helped tend the cattle and to milk the cows. When his feet were able to reach the pedals he became the dairy delivery driver, delivering milk before school. He was just shy of graduation in 1944 when he convinced his mother to sign an underage enlistment form for the United States Marine Corps so that he could join World War II. He finished basic training just as the war came to an end and he spent his enlistment serving at the Office of The Pacific in San Francisco, opening doors for “the brass” and looking handsome in his uniform.
He returned from the Marines and married his childhood sweetheart, Mary Patricia (Pat) Johnston, in Parsons, KS on June 5, 1948. Eventually 8 children were born to this union. The Marines were not done with Bob however, and he finally got his chance to fight when he was reactivated in 1950 for service in Korea. Bob was a true Marine, and a strong patriot. He was a proud member of the American Legion for over seventy years and one of his most cherished memories was the honor flight he made to Washington DC in 2015 accompanied by his four sons.
Bob worked for Southwestern Bell Telephone in Arma and Wichita. He was a lineman, a switchman and an installer/repairman. He was a proud member of Communications Workers of America and represented his coworkers for several years. He also kept an extensive garden and contracted field mowing and dirt work after hours to bring in extra income for his large family. In addition he always had time to support his children by serving as PTA president or sports team enthusiast. He was very active in Knights of Columbus in Wichita, Arma and El Dorado KS, serving as Grand Knight in Wichita in the early 70’s for Council 4118 and for the council he helped cofound in Arma, KS in the mid 70’s. He served as District Deputy and was very proud to be the Captain of the Southeast Kansas degree team. He was the Bingo caller for the Knights at Holy Family Center in Wichita for a number of years, to support Special Education.
Bob and Pat were married for 48 years until she died in 1996. He married Doris Rosalie (Rosie) Heslop in 1997 and she survives him. He is also survived by his children: Sherry (Darrell) Chapman, Derby, KS, Bob (Diane), Fairfield, TX, Phil (Brenda), Goddard, KS, Pat (Barbara), Cocoa Beach, FL, Dave (Eileen), Schulte, KS, Tricia (Doug) Suddock, Goddard, KS, Peg (Roger) Horn, Bothell, WA, Janet (Mike) Cigainero, Chanute, KS and his stepchildren: Martin (Susie) Heslop, El Dorado, KS, Scott Heslop, Park City, KS, and Jana (Dan) Holton, Parker, CO. He is also survived by his sister, Anna Ford, Humboldt, KS. In addition he is survived by a legacy of love: 45 grandchildren, 61 great grandchildren and 17 great great grandchildren, and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
Bob was preceded in death by his wife, Pat Nelson, his parents, Roy and Marie Nelson, his sisters Leona Nelson, Sister Mary Prudentia Nelson, and Margaret Hess and his brother Jim Nelson, three infant sons: James, Michael and Gerard, three grandchildren, Anne and Mary Nelson, Ben Nelson, and two great grandsons, Bentlee Nelson and Vincent Valdez.
Bob was a strong, religious, patriotic, hard-working member of the “greatest generation”. He was a loving son, brother, husband, father, grandfather and friend. He was never happier than when he had his hands in the dirt of his garden. At the same time, he loved to travel and see new things. He loved to sit deep and talk over old times. He was a living history of the past 93 years. He will be very dearly missed.
Visitation will be held on Thursday, March 18 from 5-7 pm at Carlson Funeral Home in El Dorado. A recitation of the Rosary will follow at 7pm. Mass of Christian Burial will take place on Friday, March 19 at 10am at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in El Dorado. Burial will take place on Monday, March 22 at 10am at Ft. Scott National Cemetery. Memorial contributions in Robert’s name may be directed to the Kansas Home Health & Hospice or to the Wichita Diocese Seminarians & Retired Priests. Please sign his online guestbook and leave a memory of Robert at www.carlsoncolonial.com
Posted online on March 20, 2021