Delbert Nelson, a resident of Roswell, NM for nearly 70 years, passed away peacefully on Saturday, February 29, 2020 at his home surrounded by his loving family. Delbert was born to Delbert Roy Nelson and Clara Estelle Nelson in the family house in Tucumcari, NM on December 2, 1925.
Delbert spent most of his younger years living at different section houses along the railways of the Southern Pacific Railroad where his father was a section foreman. Most of his young life was south of Alamogordo, NM in a Southern Pacific section house known as Escondida, about ten miles north of the town of Orogrande, NM. He worked for the Taylor Ranch during his high school years and graduated from Alamogordo High School in 1944.
Upon graduating high school, Delbert immediately entered military service with the United States Marine Corps and ultimately served with the 1st Marine Division in the South Pacific during the fight for Okinawa from April 1945 to June 1945. He was wounded in action and awarded the Purple Heart, among numerous other awards and decorations. While recovering from his wounds upon the hospital ship USS Comfort, a Japanese kamikaze struck the ship killing 28 service men and women. He went on to serve in China after the ultimate surrender of the Japanese in September 1945.
Delbert met the love of his life, Helen Faye Gibson while attending a little church in Alamogordo, NM in 1947. They were married on June 25, 1949 and moved to Roswell in 1952.
Delbert spent most of his professional career working for the NM State Engineer’s office in Roswell as a water rights specialist. He retired as District Supervisor with over 30 years of service to the state of NM. After retirement he went on to be a consultant on water rights issues with the law firm of Hennighausen & Olsen.
Delbert and his family were members of the College Avenue Church of Christ and then Country Club Road Church of Christ when the church relocated. Delbert served as Deacon and then Elder for over 45 years.
Delbert enjoyed the outdoors and spent countless hours with his two sons, Dan and Terry, hunting quail and fishing the lakes, streams and rivers all over southern NM, in addition he was an outstanding harmonica player and was self-taught. Delbert was an incredible husband and father and was well respected by local farmers and ranchers for his fairness and work on water rights.
Delbert is survived by two sons: Dan Nelson and wife, Ilene of Scottsdale AZ; Terry Nelson and wife, Eleanor of Carlsbad, NM; one sister, Laura Perri of Prescott, AZ. His three grandchildren, which were the light of his life: Randee Nelson, Arielle Nelson and Cole Nelson. He is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews. Delbert was preceded in death by his parents, Delbert and Clara Nelson, two brothers, Larry Nelson and wife Margret, Floyd Nelson and wife, Carolyn, two sisters: Kathleen Brunson and husband, Perry, Gypsie Tait and husband, A.L.
A visitation will be held Friday, March 6th from 5pm to 7pm at LaGrone Funeral Chapel in Roswell. A funeral service will be held at Country Club Road Church of Christ on Saturday, March 7th at 9:30am with graveside services to follow at South Park Cemetery.
Pallbearers will be Cole Nelson, Paul Elkins, Buddy Sallee, Jerry Salyards, Tim Dunnahoo and Jerry McCormick. Honorary Pallbearers are Chris Bertola, Willy Chavez, Jerry Ringheimer and Pablo Contreras.
The family wishes to recognize and convey their appreciation of the assistance and care given to Dad by Tillie Valenzuela, Frances Dishman and Jeri Dansby over the last many weeks and months.