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1951 David 2020

David Wayne Nelson

September 26, 1951 — February 27, 2020

David Wayne Nelson was born September 26, 1951 at the Carothers Hospital in Broken Bow to Darrell and Cleo Nelson.  He departed this life on February 27, 2020.

David attended Tuckerville school north of Oconto from Kindergarten through 8th grade.  He was confirmed into the Christian faith at the Oconto EUB Church at a young age.  He graduated from Broken Bow High School in 1969.  Following high school, he joined the National Guard and then attended Nebraska School of Technical Agriculture in Curtis studying horticulture.

On May 25, 1972, he married Gaylene Booker from Callaway and they joined David’s dad, Darrell, farming north of Oconto along the South Loup River.  His boys, Adrian and Jared, were a joy to him and he spent many hours teaching them to farm, hunt, fish, cook, and how to fix or repair almost anything.

David and Gaylene shared a love for plants, gardening and crafts.  For many years, they started plants from seed in their greenhouse and grew beautiful and abundant produce.  Last summer, they planted a large garden.  Determined to keep all the wildlife out, Dave built an 8-foot-tall electric fence surrounding the garden,  and he would tell you that the fence packed quite the wallop as he decided to test it one day and landed on his backside! Needless to say, it was a good year for the garden!

In addition to farming, Dave carried the Oconto rural mail route for many years, and Gaylene eventually took over.  He was also on the Oconto Volunteer Fire department and a member of the Elks’ Club of Broken Bow, Lions’ Club of Oconto, and the Woodriver Township board.  Dave was also instrumental in starting the annual Blowin’ the Doors Off barbecue in Oconto after the tornado hit Oconto in October 2000.  Since then, Dave, Adrian and Jared have participated every year, often taking home top prizes.

Dave is remembered by his family and friends as the ultimate tinkerer, craftsman, woodcarver, cook and grill master.  He had nearly infinite creativity and ingenuity.  He could look at a piece of wood or even tree bark, imagine and then successfully carve an Indian face or finely detailed deer.  More recently, he made beautiful, and very sharp, handcrafted knives.  He invented a gate closer to make closing wire gates significantly easier.  Dave built a nearly 25-foot lighted star and erected it on the top of his machine shed that could be seen from quite a distance. He could make the best prime rib, brisket or ribs in the county, maybe even the state.  And if you were around him near Christmas you were sure to taste one of his new shortbread recipes.  Dave was also a giver, generous with his time and talent. He was available to help out a neighbor, friend or family member and often volunteered in the community.  His sisters and mother remember the beautiful jewelry boxes he made for each of them out of repurposed oak table leaves.

Dave’s dry wit, sense of humor and teasing nature were his trademark.  If he teased you, you knew he loved you.  He always had a witty comeback.  He dearly loved his grandchildren, Dylan, Shey, Dakota and Ciptyn and his many nieces and nephews and later great nieces and nephews.  He always had a shirt pocket full of candy for them to discover and it seemed that shirt pocket was bottomless!

David is survived by his wife of 47 years, Gaylene, his son Adrian, Jared and wife Jeana, grandchildren Dylan Beamis, Shey Ellis, Dakota Nelson, and Ciptyn Nelson, his mother Cleo Nelson, brothers Ken and wife Cindy, and Don and wife Christy, and sisters Bev Johnson and husband Ramon, and Janice Nusbaum and husband Frank, many loving nieces and nephews and a host of friends in the Oconto community.

Funeral services will be held on Friday, March 6, 2020 at 2:00 PM at the Oconto Community Center in Oconto with Pastor Ryan Findley officiating.  Interment will be in the Oconto Cemetery.  A visitation will be held on Thursday, March 5, 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM at Govier Brothers Mortuary in Broken Bow with the family greeting friends 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM at Govier Brothers. Memorials are suggested to the Oconto Fire Department or the Oconto United Methodist Church. Words of encouragement or remembrance may be left at


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