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Obituary Listings

Donald Keith Nelson

June 22, 1931 March 16, 2013
Donald Keith Nelson
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Obituary for Donald Keith Nelson

Donald Keith Nelson

Nelson, Donald K. age 81, passed away at the Brandon Community Hospital on March 16, 2013 in Brandon, Florida. A native of Anson, Maine, he will be remembered for his steadfast love for his family. He grew up fishing, hunting, ice skating, snow skiing and working on cars with his dad and brothers in Maine. He was one of twelve children born to his Father, LeBaron Samuel Nelson (from Prince Edward Island) and Bertha Smith Nelson. During the Korean War he was drafted into the Army infantry, so he quit his job in the paper mills to instead hurriedly enlist in the Air Force. He served 22 years with this branch of the military, and was soon stationed at Wiesbaden Air Force Base in Wiesbaden, Germany, where he met and married Helma Francisca Lucht. He completed his GED during this time. It was there that his eldest son, Kenneth was born and where they lived for almost five years. Don and Helma enjoyed travelling both by train and automobile throughout Europe. Some of Dad's fondest memories are from this time period- visiting the old castles, churches, taverns, dance halls and forests in Germany, Austria, Lichtenstein, Belgium and Luxemburg and taking trips to the Alps to snow ski, sled and ice skate. He spent wonderful times with his wife's family in Germany and helped his wife obtain the first of many oral and written translating jobs for the Air Force in Wiesbaden. Dad was also stationed for short stints throughout the United States at bases and training facilities in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Upon returning from Europe, he received orders to go to Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas, where his son Dale was born. Dad was recommended and qualified for Officer Training School at this time but due to newly imposed age restrictions for such training by the Pentagon, had this opportunity rescinded- one of his greatest regrets. After this tour, he was transferred to Columbus Air Force Base in Columbus, Mississippi and was delighted at the birth of his first daughter, Yvonne. Upon being ordered to Thule, Greenland for a year, he moved his young family from Mississippi to Madison, Maine to live with his brothers and sisters. He relished sending home pictures of the deep snow, dog sleds, snow shoes, reindeer and of him wearing his parka. He worked at night in the library there to send extra money home for his family. His orders next took him to Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois for five years where his daughter Colleen was born. He then completed a year's tour of duty at Takli Air Base in Takli, Thailand during the Vietnam War while his family remained in Rantoul. He served as a supply officer for the bomber squadrons stationed at Takli and worked extra duty in the commissary and library to again send extra money home for his family. While he enjoyed his temporary tours of duty (TTY's) from Takli to Japan and to the Phillipines, Dad detested his tour in Thailand so much that when the service considered sending him back a few years later, he decided on retirement instead. He saw hootches (barracks) destroyed by hand grenades, lost comrades to subversive sapper (commando) attacks- sometimes conducted by women and children- and hated the destruction which occurred during the war and the squalid poverty he saw about him outside of the base. Dad returned to the United States to be stationed at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa Florida, serving his final four years there in various capacities- as a supply Sergeant in the 94th Aero Squadron, in Base Billeting and Housing, and ironically enough, in Mortuary Affairs. He also completed TTY's at Lackland and Homestead Air Force Bases in Florida during these years and participated in maneuvers three separate times at the Avon Park Bombing Range. During his years there, he often stated that MacDill was his favorite base of all outside of Germany. Dad also started private flying lessons during his last two years at MacDill, coming to the completion of Ground School and earning more than forty hours in the air before being grounded due to being diagnosed with diabetes. It was at MacDill that his last child, Stephanie, was born. Dad had strongly considered re-upping for four more years and had put in for being considered to return to Germany. He was offered his Master's Sergeant Stripe at this time with the stipulation of having to return to Thailand for a year before being considered for a separate assignment abroad. He immediately put in for retirement as stated above. It is interesting to note that one week before his retirement the opportunity to return to Germany for two years was offered to him, but he had accepted a job with the county during those economically uncertain times and was resolute about retiring, even though he later stated he wished all of his children had been able to enjoy the European culture he was able to experience while in his early twenties with our mom. Dad worked twenty years as a field representative with the Hillsborough County Tax Appraiser's Office. He devotedly helped his wife through her struggle with cancer and heart disease for nine years and helped and supported his children and grandchildren unselfishly in times of need and travail. Called "Babbi" by his grandchildren- Dad was a gentle, quiet, loving man. He was an avid reader until his eyesight deteriorated and was a Rays Baseball fan looking forward to the upcoming season. He enjoyed western movies and will always be remembered for his funny stories about his youth in Maine, for his enjoyment of watching "Gunsmoke" and "Wild, Wild West" on TV while eating raw onions and potatoes, for his love of jokes and for taking on odd jobs to help pay for the material needs of his family. Babbi was proud to have such caring and wonderful children and grandchildren and of each of their accomplishments and the manner in which each overcame personal challenges and travails to lead decent, productive lives. Dad is survived by his sons, Kenneth A. Nelson of Bradenton and Dr. Dale W. Nelson of Riverview, his daughters, Yvonne Nelson-Ramos of Tampa and Stephanie Dixon of Brandon and his grandchildren, Jessica, Lindsey, Tiffany, Mallory, Megan and Connor. He is predeceased by his daughters Donna Lynn Nelson and Colleen Springfield and his loving wife Helma Nelson. His great capacity for unconditional love for his wife, children and grandchildren were unparalleled and his ability to forgive us our silliness and transgressions a quiet virtue. One of his nephews said it best- our dad was a good, good man who loved his family and would do little things with a big heart for each of them depending on their needs. Dad-if God truly is love as the Good Book says, then He resided with us abundantly everyday through your immense love for us. We'll miss you Dad/Babbi and your great love- we know the angels will enjoy your sense of humor and the mischievous twinkle in your eyes!

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