Lee James Nielson of Rupert, Idaho passed away on December 12, 2018 at Minidoka Memorial Hospital in Rupert, Idaho. With him was his wife of 12 years, Melba Hatch Nielson of Rupert, and his son, Gordon Nielson of Philomath, Oregon. Other family members and friends were at his bedside. He was 95 years old.
His funeral was held on December 17, 2018 at the Rupert Second Ward Chapel of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints with Bishop Mike Child officiating. Burial followed the funeral services at the Minidoka Acequia Rupert Cemetery with a military honor guard. Lee was interned next to his first wife Kathryn Kohler Nielson.
Lee was born in Elko, Nevada on Christmas day, 1922, to James O. Nielson and Anna Verlillian Calton Nielson. Lee and his mother spent the next few days at the doctors home in Elko before making the cold journey by train back to their home near Wells, Nevada. Lee’s father met them at the train depot with his horse team, wagon and many blankets for the trip to Metropolis, Nevada. The family moved into Wells when Lee was about five years old where he gained his education from grade school to high school graduation. Lee had a love for horses, so he and his friends would barrow his dad’s jeep and catch wild horses near Wells. Then he would train them, ride them, and sell them.
Lee was inducted into the United States Army, January 29, 1943 and later assigned to the 176th General Hospital. He served in Germany, France, and Belgium in Army field hospitals and on transport trains. He was honorably discharged on February 13, 1946. He later went to Ely, Nevada to work with his sister and brother-in-law in the service station business. A girl asked him if he would like to go on a blind date to the charity ball. He drove to a near by town called McGill and was seated in the waiting room of the dormitory. A few minutes later he saw a beautiful young lady come down the stairs dressed in a black velvet gown with a rhinestone necklace and bracelet. He thought that this couldn’t be his date but it was, Kathryn Kohler.
On July 3, 1949 Lee and Kathy were married in Las Vegas. In 1951 Lee went to Ohio to a meat cutting school and from there was in the grocery meat cutting business until he retired in Rupert. Lee was an avid hunter and fisherman and taught his sons his skills in those sports. He loved spending time with his family camping and was a little league baseball coach for about eight years and a Boy Scout master for six years while his sons were young. Lee was awarded the “Extra Miler” Award for his outstanding service in the Boy Scout program. He also served in civic clubs like the Junior Chamber of Commerce and Lions Club. Lee was an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and held many positions throughout his life. Searching for semi-precious rocks became a hobby he enjoyed and he cut and polished the stones to make jewelry. In 2002 his wife, Kathy, of nearly 53 years passed away from cancer. This was a very lonely time for him but he continued attending church and being involved with friends that gave him wonderful support. Melba Hatch was one of those friends. They spent a great deal of time together being companions and enjoying life. In 2006 Lee and Melba were married. Melba and her family were a great blessing to Lee.
Lee was preceded in death by his first wife, Kathy, his mother and father, three sisters, a brother, and one great grandson. He is survived by his wife, Melba Hatch Nielson of Rupert, his sons, Martin Nielson (Connie) of Mariposa, CA, and Gordon Nielson (Leeanna) of Philomath, OR, his step-daughters Caroline Walker (David) of Rupert, ID, Kay Dawn Andersen (Theron) of Rupert, ID, JLynn Westlake (Chris) of Citrus Heights, CA, and his sister, June Nielson Albiston of Ogden, UT. He has eight grand children and 25 great-grand children.
The family would like to extend their appreciation to the family and friends that have given kind service and friendship to Lee for so many years. Also, gratitude is extended to the medical staff that cared for our dear husband, father, and grandfather.