Millard Harris Nelson, age 99, of Watkins, died Friday, July 21, 2017, at the Hilltop Health Care Center.
He was born May 1, 1918, in North Kingston Township, Meeker County, the son of Willie and Alice (McKinzie) Nelson.
Millard attended school and graduated from Annandale High School in 1935. He continued his education and received his teacher’s certificate from St. Cloud Teacher College.
His first teaching job was at the country school near Annandale. Millard then taught at a country school near St. Michael, where he met his future wife, Shirlee. He then went on to teach at Earle Brown Elementary in Brooklyn Center.
Millard was united in marriage to Shirlee Ione Marie Breuninger Aug. 23, 1941, at St. Bridget’s Catholic Church in North Minneapolis.
Millard was inducted into the United States Coast Guard June 19, 1942, and Millard and Shirlee made a moved to Oakland, CA while he was in the service.
Millard served as a pharmacist’s mate on the USS Callaway in the Pacific Theater during World War II, and was discharged Nov. 8, 1945. Upon his completion of duty, Millard returned home and continued his education by attending St. Cloud University.
For a short time after the service, Millard was employed as a nurse at St. Barnabas Hospital in Minneapolis. He returned to teaching and taught in the South Haven School District before accepting a position as a sixth grade teacher in Buffalo. He later became the principal before returning to the classroom and becoming the band director for several years.
In 1957, Millard was employed by the St. Cloud Veterans Hospital as a recreational music therapist, retiring in 1980. He organized a drum and bugle corps and an orchestra of patients at the VA Hospital.
Following retirement from the VA Hospital, Millard returned to teaching and taught for several years as a substitute teacher for the Kimball School District.
A man of many talents, Millard loved music, growing flowers, reading, writing poetry, and building bird houses and lean-tos.
He was a founder of the South Haven VFW Post 7332, and a lifetime member of the Ketchikan VFW Post 4352 in Ketchikan, AK.
Millard served as mayor of South Haven for several years, and was one of the founders of the South Haven Volunteer Fire Department. He taught firearm safety courses and snowmobile safety training for 20 years. A very talented musician, he had been a member of several polka bands. He was founding member of the Polka Dots, the Four Winds, and was a member of a band onboard the USS Callaway which would play for wounded soldiers. He would often sit in and play with the Six Fat Dutchmen, as well.
Millard is survived by his children, Terry (Patty) Nelson of Kimball, Tim (JoAnne) Nelson of Rockford, Sheree Lee (Jim Schmitz), and Mike (Kris) Nelson, all of South Haven; 14 grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren; and four great-great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Shirlee; his daughter, Diane Greely; his parents; and a sister, Bernice Rose.
A celebration of life took place Thursday, July 27 at 7 p.m. at the Johnson Funeral Home in Dassel, with a gathering of family and friends from 4 to 7 p.m., prior to the service. Interment was Friday morning, July 28 at Saint Anne’s Catholic Cemetery in Kimball.
The Johnson Funeral Home in Dassel handled the arrangements.