Cover photo for Lawrence A. 'Larry' Nelson's Obituary
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1921 Lawrence 2013

Lawrence A. 'Larry' Nelson

July 27, 1921 — July 29, 2013

Lawrence A. (Larry) Nelson, 92, died suddenly at his home on July 29, 2013. The oldest of four sons, he was born July 27, 1921 at the family farm near Trent, SD to Walter and Carrie Nelson. His early life as a farm boy instilled in him a lifelong love of the soil and that which grows in it—especially gardening and raising flowers. In 1939 he graduated from Dell Rapids High School and, after working for a year, enrolled at South Dakota State College in Brookings, SD. Shortly after beginning his studies there, he met Frances Krueger, who would become the love of his life. Their mutual interest was sparked by the discovery that they shared a birthday! In 1942 he left SDSC to enlist in the Army Air Corps, hoping to fulfill his dream of becoming a pilot. Although eyesight prevented him from reaching that goal, he did become an excellent navigator. Larry was assigned to a base in Great Bend, KS in 1944. While there, he and Fran were married He became a navigator on a B-29 bomber crew; the crew remained together for the duration of World War II. Larry and his crew flew 37 bombing missions against Japan from their base on the island of Saipan. Following the war, he returned to college on the GI Bill and graduated from Iowa State College in 1947 with a degree in agronomy. But in a change of career goals, he enrolled at Berkeley Baptist Divinity School in California, receiving his B.D. degree in 1950. This career choice was precipitated largely by his wartime experiences and the moral and ethical issues connected with civilian casualties resulting from the bombing. For the rest of his life he valued the peacemakers of this world. From 1950 through 1965 Larry and Fran served three parishes in Honey Creek, WI, Hamilton, MT and Bozeman, MT. Also during this time they had two sons, Mike and Dan. In 1966 he became the Executive Minister (later titled Area Minister) for most of the American Baptist churches of Montana, serving in this capacity until his retirement in 1985. A major portion of this position was overseeing the operations of Templed Hills Baptist camp near Livingston, aided by Fran. He and Fran continued to live in Bozeman after retirement and he became active as a volunteer in several organizations including Hospice and the Soldiers Chapel board. He was also a member of the local garden club. Larry will be remembered as a kind and loving husband, father, grandfather, and uncle. He loved people, as shown in the many good deeds he did in living out his Christian beliefs. In turn, he was well liked by virtually everyone with whom he came in contact. He will be sorely missed. He is survived by Fran, his wife of 69 years; sons Mike (Joyce) of Laramie, WY and Dan (Rebecca) of Ogden, UT; grandsons Matthew and Mark of Laramie; and brothers Oliver (Marion) of Milton, MA; Rupert (Dolores) of Claremont, CA. and six nephews and nieces. He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother, Robert. A celebration of life will be held Friday, August 16 at 11:00 AM at First Baptist Church, 120 S. Grand Ave., Bozeman. Cremation has taken place. Memorial gifts may be made to the Bozeman Deaconess Foundation of Western Montana, Hospice, American Baptist International Ministries (PO Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482-9896), or a charity of your choice.

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