Stanley R. Nelson

Beloved husband, father and grandfather, Stanley Reid Nelson, M.D., 84, formerly of Westwood Hills, KS, and more recently of Fairway, died peacefully at home, surrounded by his loving family on May 29, 2013. For the eight years that Stan lived with cancer, he had a quality of life that allowed him to enjoy his dear grandchildren, to deepen already strong bonds with his three sons and daughters-in-law, to hike with his wife on the Pilgrim Trail in Norway from Oslo to Trondheim, to write a play and to enjoy the stimulating friendships of cherished relatives and colleagues. The Nelson family thanks the doctors, nurses and staff on Unit 42 at the University of Kansas Hospital and Dr. Suman Kambhampati and staff of the KU Cancer Center for their excellent and loving care. Our gratitude knows no bounds. The family also thanks the many steadfast relatives and friends who gave enduring support throughout this time.

Stan was born on a small farm near Kidder, S.D. and often said he was “the kid from Kidder.” He entered the University of South Dakota in 1946 and received a B.A. in chemistry three years later. He enlisted in the Air Force in 1950, became a jet fighter pilot and spent most of his active duty in Alaska. He considered it a high point of his life to have been associated with the men of the 65th fighter squadron and an honor to have been in the 52-A pilot graduating class. He initiated 52-A class reunions which continue to this day. He returned to school on the G.I. Bill, received a B.S. in Medicine in 1957 at USD and his M.D. from Tulane University in 1959. Stan interned at the University of North Carolina Hospital and completed a neurosurgical residency at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in 1964. He took postdoctoral training for two years in neurochemistry at Washington University in St. Louis. He then joined the faculty at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in 1966 and was a member of the departments of Pharmacology, Neurosurgery and Anatomy. He served as chairman of the Department of Anatomy from 1981 until 1987. He was named professor emeritus upon his retirement in 1994. He was a member of the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, the American Association of Anatomists, the Society for Neuroscience, the Society of the Sigma Xi and Alpha Omega Alpha.

Stan was a ham radio operator (KDOG), belonged to the American Radio Relay League and was a past president of the Johnson County Radio Amateur Club. He was a member of the Bicycle Mobile Hams of America, the Kansas City Track Club, MARA, and the “Somewhere in Kansas” bicycle group. Stan and his wife bicycled unsupported across the U.S. in 1995, rode End-to-End in Great Britain and cycled the Camino pilgrimage trail in northern Spain. A favorite ride was Missouri’s beautiful KATY Trail. He was a founding member of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church, a cofounder of the Northeast United Soccer Club and helped develop the Johnson County Soccer League. Other hobbies included bird watching, astronomy and Dixieland jazz music.

Survivors include his wife, Ann Nelson, of the home; three sons, Peter Nelson, M.D. (Molly), Seattle, WA, Reid Nelson, J.D. (Heather), Lawrence, KS, Ted Nelson, D.D.S. (Denise), Overland Park, KS, and cherished grandchildren, Emily, Rory and Heidi; four sisters, Colleen Heitmann and Vonda Zirbes (Bill), Salem, OR, Donna McCollough (Bob), Lady Lake, FL, Iris Thurston (Dick), Norman, OK and many dear in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews.

Friends are invited to attend a “Coffee Boys” memorial service with coffee, bagels and conversation on Friday, June 7 at 10 a.m. at the Simpson House, 4509 Walnut, Kansas City, MO. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorials be made to The University of South Dakota Foundation, The Dr. Stanley R. Nelson and Ann Nelson Chemistry Faculty Support Fund, P.O. Box 5555, Vermillion, S.D. 57069 or a charity of your choice.



  1. Frank L. Farrar on June 6, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    I went to school with Stan Nelson at Britton High School when the boy from Kidder went to high school in Britton, SD and later he and I went to South Dakota State University. He was an outstanding person and doctor. His accomplishments speak for themselves and I remember him as a good athlete, curly hair and a man who was going to succeed.

    Please accept my sympathy.

    Frank Farrar

  2. Nila (Trygstad) Carpenter on June 5, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Was sorry to see that Stan had passed away, another Kidder kid gone. Been years since the Nelsons have been around Kidder. You have my heart felt sympathy, he lived a good life. My love to the family, may God give you peace.

  3. Carolyn and Gigi Mase' on June 4, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    Dear Ann and Family,

    Please accept our love and sympathy in this difficult time. We will miss Stan forever. Never will we forget his KDOG kindness to Guido when we were new to Westwood Hills. Just another example of the wonderful man we all knew and loved. In friendship, your neighbors, Carolyn and Gigi Mase’

  4. Ruben D. Bunag, MD on June 3, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    Ann: Just heard of Stan’s passing and we share in your grief with heartfelt condolences. Sorry we are unable to attend the memorial service as we will be out of town.

    Ben and Pros Bunag

  5. Pam Barrows on June 1, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Ann, Peter, Reid, Ted and families: Even though my interaction with Stan was not a lot over the years he “become my cousin by marriage”, I’ve always been so impressed by his caring, kindness and interst in Ann’s Johnson clan relatives. As cousin Wendy said, he was one of the really good guys! I’m so glad he was able to have those “extra 9 lives”. Please know my thoughts and prayers are with you.

  6. Bob in Grandview, Missouri on May 31, 2013 at 8:17 am

    I am grateful for the life of Dr. Nelson. Thanks to his service and to the service of others in our armed forces, my family and I have been able to lead our lives in freedom and peace.

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