Home News Local News Former legislator, local historian Morgan Nelson passes away

Former legislator, local historian Morgan Nelson passes away

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Morgan Nelson, former state legislator and county flood commissioner, passed away Friday morning at his home.

Morgan Nelson

Nelson, 99, was born in Cottonwood, New Mexico on Sept. 27, 1919 to Fred and Florace Nelson. The family moved to Roswell when he was a child. His grandparents had lived in Roswell since 1887. He graduated from Roswell High School in 1937 and received a degree in Mechanical Engineering from New Mexico A&M, now New Mexico State University, in 1941.

He was an officer in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II. He served in Europe and Egypt maintaining aircraft. He was later recalled to service during the Korean conflict. Nelson also served 20 years as a United States Air Force Reservist.

He ran for the State Legislature in 1949, and served 12 years. His primary focus was state finance. Serving as chairman of the Appropriation and Finance Committee, he proposed the junior college system. The program has prepared tens of thousands of New Mexicans for careers for more than 50 years.

He continued to run the family farms at East Grand Plains and Cottonwood after the war.

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It was during that time he worked to improve cotton farming and water conservation. He was the Chaves County Flood Commissioner, and he remained active in the NMSU College of Agriculture’s cotton research program. He was president of the 1517 Cotton Association, and on the Committee of Agriculture Research Extension and Training (CARET).

Nelson was a member of First Baptist Church of Roswell, a Rotarian and a member of Roswell Masonic Lodge No. 18.

He was a driving force behind the Historical Society of Southeastern New Mexico, and was the first museum chairman. He wrote extensively on local history and on local water history.

In 1950, he married Joyce Walsh Nelson and they raised three daughters, Margo, Ann and Jane. Joyce died in 2008 after 58 years of marriage. Together they endowed two scholarships. One was with the NMSU Foundation, and the other was with the ENMU-R Foundation.

He later established and endowed a fund with the Historical Foundation of Southeastern New Mexico as well.

Among the many awards he received are an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from NMSU, the James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service from NMSU, Citizen of the Year 2018 from the Roswell Board of Realtors, and he was inducted into the Cotton Hall of Fame.

Further announcements about his funeral and memorials will be published in the Roswell Daily Record soon.

Editor’s note: This story has been edited to correct errors in an earlier version.