Don Nelson, 86 of Dimmitt, Texas, passed away on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020 in Lubbock, Texas. Celebration of Life Service will be held on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020 at 10:30 a.m. in the First United Methodist Church with Rev. T.C. Broom officiating. A private family burial will follow with arrangements being under the direction of Colonial Funeral Home of Dimmitt. Viewing will be held on Sunday, Aug. 30 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the funeral home.
Although the funeral is open to the community, safe distancing will be observed and the family requests that all attendees wear masks throughout the service. The service will be livestreamed on the church’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/fumcdimmitt3. Nelson was born on Feb. 25, 1934, in Roaring Springs, Texas, to Bascom McTyiere Nelson and Viola Patzke Nelson. He married Verbie Bess Oldham, whom he met in the Texas Tech choir when both were 17- year-old freshman, on Aug. 28, 1954 in Lubbock. They would have celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary this year. She preceded him in death on Sept. 14, 2014.
Until his retirement in 2002, Nelson was editor and publisher of The Castro County News, a weekly newspaper that was owned and operated by his family since 1943.
He grew up as a “printer’s devil” in the back shop, learned to set type and had a newspaper route.
He became a Linotype operator in his teens and served as editor of his high school newspaper, Bobcat Tales. After graduating from Dimmitt High School, he attended Texas Tech University one year on a vocal music scholarship, then transferred to the University of Texas, where he worked his way through school as a typesetter. He served as night sports editor for The Daily Texan, the school’s student newspaper.
He received his bachelor’s degree in journalism from UT in 1956. After serving two years in the U.S. Army, he was the news editor for seven years at The Arizona Record, a national awardwinning weekly in Globe, Ariz. While living in Globe, he served a year as a vice president of the Arizona Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees).
He returned to Dimmitt in 1966 to become a partner with his father, the late B.M. Nelson, in The Castro County News. He became the sole owner of News following his father’s retirement in 1984.
Through the years, the News earned awards at regional and state levels. Nelson also won national awards for column writing. He served as president of the Panhandle Press Association in 1970-71.
Nelson served on the UT System Chancellor’s Committee of Editors in 1972- 73 and was a member of the Texas Tech Mass Communications Advisory Committee for many years, including one term as chairman of the journalism committee.
In Dimmitt, he served as president of the Jaycees, Lions Club and County Activities Committee, an officer and director of the Chamber of Commerce and the Dimmitt Satellite School and an advisor for the Interracial Youth Club. He also served as chair of the American Field Service (AFS) Chapter in Dimmitt and was friend and mentor to numerous exchange students from across the globe who attended Dimmitt High School.
He was co-chairman of the Castro County Centennial Commission, which raised $100,000 to underwrite the county’s centennial celebration in 1991 and pay for construction of the Centennial Plaza and Gazebo on the courthouse square.
During the Centennial, his staff also produced a 116- page special edition. For his work on the centennial and for numerous contributions to Dimmitt and Castro County throughout his life, Nelson was honored as Dimmitt’s “Citizen of the Year” in 1992. After receiving this honor, he wrote, “Community service has always been a part of my life, and I’ve always considered it to be a responsibility; and that I learned it by example from the man who won this award 25 years ago—my dad.”
He first sang solos in the First United Methodist Church of Dimmitt as a teenager and continued to sing bass in the choir until he was forced to isolate because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He served four years as choir director and belonged to the Methodist Men’s Quartet. He also was a regular soloist in Dimmitt’s “Follies” and other musical events.
He was a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (Sigma Delta Chi) and the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.
He always was concerned with the ethics of the profession, especially as they apply to the unique position of the country editor. For a decade, he chaired an “ethics panel” at the Panhandle Press Association conventions, and in 1996 at the Texas Press Association at Midwinter Convention.
At the 90th annual convention of the Panhandle Press Association in April 2000, he was inducted into the PPA Hall of Fame. And in June 2000, he was honored for his half-century journalism career with a “Golden 50 Award” by the Texas Press Association.
His favorite hobbies were singing, fly-fishing, birdwatching, traveling and spending time with his family and friends.
He is survived by his three adult children, Rev. Connie Nelson of Dallas, Texas, David Nelson of Dimmitt, Texas, and Nathan Nelson and Karen Nelson of Flower Mound Texas; six grandchildren: Katherine Nelson-Daniel Wilkinson and David Wilkinson of Epsom, England, Anna Nelson-Daniel of Brooklyn, New York, Amanda Baker and Bryce Baker of Madison, Wisconsin, Jake Nelson of Flower Mound, Texas, Danielle Syvertsen of Madison, Wisconsin, and Allie Nelson of Flower Mound, Texas; and one great-granddaughter, Sophie Glenys Wilkinson of Epsom, England.
He is also survived by his sister, Mary Nelson Burnham of Albuquerque, New Mexico; three nephews, Mike Burnham of Phoenix, Arizona, Rex Burnham of Claymont, Delaware, and Jay Burnham of Birmingham, Alabama; one niece, Susan Nelson of Warrensburg, Missouri; and numerous cousins. He was preceded in death by a brother, Bascom McTyiere Nelson, Jr.
In addition, he is survived by adopted daughters Ulla Jonsson Bohman of Stockholm, Sweden, and Kerry Broderson Morrison of Lorenzo, Texas.