James Keith "Duffy" Nelson

James Keith “Duffy” Nelson


James Keith “Duffy” Nelson, 92, formerly of Ollie, passed away on Monday, May 23, 2022 at Manor House Care Center in Sigourney.

Keith was born at his parents’ farm at Ioka, southwest of Ollie, Iowa on August 5, 1929.  He was the son of James and Nellie (Liggett) Nelson. He lived there until 1936 when he moved with his parents to another farm northeast of Ollie.  He graduated from Ollie High School in 1947. 

Keith served in the United States Army from 1948 to 1952.  He was in the Occupation Forces in Japan and then served in the Korean War as a Corporal in the Service Battery, 52nd Field Artillery Battalion, 24th Infantry Division.  The Bronze Star and the Purple Heart were among the medals Keith was awarded during his time in Korea.

On April 12, 1952, he married Lola Ruth Faris, at the Methodist Church in Cameron, Missouri.  They had a double wedding with their good friends, Jim Stull and Beatrice Nash.  Keith and Lola were married for 68 years at the time of her passing in 2020.

The couple lived in various places in eastern and central Iowa while Keith worked as an automotive and heavy equipment mechanic and spent many years working in road construction.  In 1961, they settled back at Ollie where they lived for the next 59 years.  Keith built a garage in Ollie and owned Keith Nelson Service Company for heavy equipment repair and farm machinery sales and service.  He repaired radios and televisions at this time as well.  He also owned a semi trucking company and was a semi driver for a few years himself, traveling all over the U.S.  In 1981, he became the night mechanic supervisor at Dickey Transport in Packwood, Iowa, where he worked until his retirement in 2000, at the age of 71.

Keith was a member of the American Legion Post 504 in Richland.  He was a mason and member of the Justice Lodge No. 230 A.F. & A.M. in Ollie and a volunteer for the Ollie Fire Department in his younger years.

Keith was a lifelong learner and inventor, always striving to find new ways to improve things.  Over the years, he invented many items including wood burning furnaces which he built and sold under the name Pride of Ollie – Nelson Manufacturing Company.  Keith also kept very busy in his retirement.  At that time, he researched and converted his car engine to run on hydrogen fuel.  He built his own solar panels, decks for the house and poured all of the concrete himself for new sidewalks at their home.  Keith was very technologically inclined.  He was one of the first to own a home computer and loved using it.  He enjoyed taking his computers and anything electronic apart and putting them back together again with the desire to always know how things worked. Later in life, Keith developed a passion for investing, which he managed on his own.  His favorite pastime was checking his stocks on his smart phone whenever and wherever he went.

Keith truly enjoyed living in his hometown of Ollie and the friends he made there.  In 2019, he took great delight in celebrating his 90th birthday as the oldest citizen who lived in town at the time. 

Keith is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Anne and Brian Van Der Sloot of Center Point; his cherished granddaughters, Ashley Van Der Sloot of Center Point and Emily Van Der Sloot of Cedar Rapids; sister and brother-in-law, Karen and Richard Williams of Ollie; niece, Kathy Ryan and family of Ankeny, and nephews, Jim Williams of Sigourney and Lewis Faris of Davenport.

He was preceded in death by his parents and an infant sister, Charlotte; his wife, Lola, and his daughter, Phyllis Nelson. His brothers-in-law Ben and Bill Faris, and sister-in-law Louise Faris, also preceded him in death.

The family would like to thank the wonderful staff at Manor House Care Center in Sigourney for their exceptional tender, loving care and the VA Hospital in Iowa City for the great medical care they provided Keith over the years.

A celebration of life will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 26, 2022, at Powell Funeral Home in Sigourney, for both Keith and his wife, Lola, who passed away in 2020, with Pastor Steven Lamb officiating.  Visitation will be from 1:00 p.m. until 2:00 p.m. on Thursday at the funeral home.  Final resting place will be at the Ollie Cemetery.


If desired in lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to Disabled American Veterans.  Powell Funeral Home and Cremation Service in Sigourney is caring for Keith and his family.  Tributes may be made at www.powellfuneralhomes.com




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