Frank Gerald Nelson was born to Axel and Ruth (Carlson) Nelson on May 17, 1942, in Whitehall, Mt.
He passed away on April 7, 2023 at the Ruby Valley Hospital in Sheridan, Mt.
Frank attended schools in Twin Bridges, Mt., before enrolling in the University of Montana where he majored in mathematics with an emphasis on secondary education. He graduated from the University of Montana in June 1964, and was married to the love of his life, Darlene McClure, on Aug. 23, 1964. Together, they moved to Dixon, Mt., where Frank taught for two years before they moved back to Twin Bridges.
He taught math at Twin Bridges High School for nine years. During this time, Darla, his daughter, and Todd, his son, were born. He also went to summer school at Montana State University until he got his master’s in administration. Upon completion of his Master’s, Frank became the principal and then superintendent/principal for Twin Bridges High School for nine years, prior to moving to White Sulphur Springs where he was principal and superintendent for six years. He retired in May 1990 so Todd could finish his senior year in Twin Bridges.
As many a former student will tell you, Frank was a math whiz. However, he met his first challenge when trying to teach Darla geometry. He couldn’t believe how obtuse she was, and she became acutely aware that math was not in her future. His faith was restored when Todd entered high school and was able to navigate through math with ease.
When living in Twin Bridges, Frank lived for softball, fishing and camping in the summer, transitioning to camping and bow hunting in the early fall, which led to rifle hunting from October into November. Then of course there were the goose hunts, mostly on the East Bench, which lasted until after Christmas. The long Montana winters were spent refilling bullets, tying flies and telling tall tales about fish caught, animals harvested, and homeruns hit. (You wouldn’t believe how big Frank’s fish were by May).
Frank’s love of hunting followed his children and grandchildren. Once again, though, Darla challenged him. He took her on an antelope hunt when she was 12, and Darla was successful. However, it took her 11 shots (she ran out of bullets, so Frank had to put the animal out of its misery) and lots of walking by Frank, Darla and Todd before she shot her first antelope. After that hunting lost its novelty for Darla but Todd was there to pick up the slack and the family shared many great memories in the Ruby, Hell’s Canyon and at times the Blacktail. Frank and Todd went on to teach Darla and Todd’s children the fine art of hunting.
After retiring the first time, he worked on the family ranch two miles north of Silver Star. However, he soon felt he could provide leadership to the Madison County commissioners and ran for that office. He was elected to two terms before retiring for a second time.
During his second retirement, hunting escapades reigned supreme and Frank and Darlene hunted and camped from summer into fall. They also added Montana Grizzly season tickets to their repertoire and travelled to Missoula to stay at the Campus Inn Friday nights and take in gameday action on Saturdays until those days became too much for Darlene. Then, Frank continued attending games on his own until his health became a detriment. Frank, Darlene and Darla bonded over those Montana Grizzlies, and this gave Todd a lot of heartburn.
Frank also stayed active in retirement by involving himself in the Masons and by playing his Thursday night poker game. When he started to realize his mind was slipping and he couldn’t play poker with his Thursday night crew, he was heartbroken. After all, on a good night he would come home with an extra $7 in his pocket.
Frank’s family always came first, and Christmas Eve will never be the same. After his retirement Darlene would work and come home to help Frank finish dinner. It was always a several-course meal with a first course being oyster stew. There were always plenty of spirits and laughter, ribbing and teasing and his quick wit will be missed. And while the rest of you were read “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” the Nelson children got to listen to not only that, but also the poem, “The Cremation of Sam McGee” by Robert Service in Frank’s trademark voice.
Frank was pre-deceased by his wife, Darlene, and his brother, Gary Nelson.
He is survived by his children Jerome and Darla (Nelson) McCarthy, Todd and Patty (Hollister) Nelson; his brother, Norman Nelson; his grandchildren, Dakota and Abby (Williams) Marsh; Gage and Cassie (Williams) Baumeister; Devin, Ryan and Madison McCarthy; and Kristen and Brandt Nelson; great grandchildren Kane and Lakelyn Baumeister and Wrenley Marsh; his nephews, Scott, Brian and Drew Nelson; and many cousins.
Funeral services will take place at two p.m. on Friday, April 14 at the Church of the Valley in Twin Bridges.
Private interment services will take place at a later date.
The family asks that memorials be made to the Masonic Temple in Twin Bridges; the Twin Bridges Alumni Association, P. O. Box 142, Twin Bridges, MT., 59754; or the Twin Bridges Historical Association, P. O. Box 227, Twin Bridges, MT., 59754; or a charity of the donor’s choice.
The family would like to thank the staff of the Ruby Valley Hospital for the excellent care they took of Frank in the week that he was there.