Rejoice! Morgan Nelson finished his time on this earth and went to be with the Lord on March 1, 2019, at the age of 99 years and 5 months. He was born in Cottonwood, New Mexico on September 27, 1919, to Fred M and Florace Morgan Nelson. The family moved to East Grand Plains where he attended school through eighth grade. He graduated from Roswell High School in 1937.
Nelson graduated from the New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts, now New Mexico State University, in 1941 with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.
The United States Army Air Corps needed graduate engineers. The Surge of patriotism along with some urging from Uncle Sam had Nelson joining up in July of 1941. He served five years in World War II, in the Middle East Theater and Europe. He was recalled to active duty during the Korean conflict. He finished his Air Force career with the rank of Colonel after 20 years’ service in the US Air Force Reserve.
Upon his return from World War II, Nelson took up farming with his father at their Cottonwood and East Grand Plains farms. Farming was his primary occupation for the rest of his life. His grandparents had arrived in Roswell on Christmas Eve of 1887. The East Grand Plains farm had been originally operated by his uncle starting in 1895.
In 1949, Nelson ran for the New Mexico State Legislature. He served 12 years. He specialized in state finance, serving as Chairman of the Appropriations and Finance Committee in 1957. He served as Chairman of the Bored of Educational Finance. It was created to get higher education finance out of politics. He considered his most important achievement in his legislative career to be the proposal and enactment of the law establishing a junior-college system for New Mexico. He was active in the establishing of Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell at the former Walker Air Force Base.
After his legislative career, he concentrated on farming and the improvement of cotton in New Mexico. He served over 20 years on the Cotton Incorporated ( CI ) Board of Directors. He was president of the 1517 Cotton Association. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Southwestern Irrigated Cotton Growers ( SWIG ). Always interested in the improvement of cotton, he was active in the NMSU Collage of Agriculture’s actives in cotton research and promotion. He served on the Council for Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching ( CARET). He was known as “Mr. Cotton” of New Mexico and was among the first five inductees into the Cotton’s Hall of Fame in 2014.
Nelson received many awards, among them, the James F. Cole Memorial Award for Service, and an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree, both from NMSU. In 2018 the Roswell Board of Realtors named him Citizen of the Year.
He was a member of First Baptist Church of Roswell. As a Rotarian, he received the Paul Harris Award. He was a member of the Roswell Masonic Lodge No. 18, and he served as the Flood Commissioner of Chaves County until the day he died.
Nelson was active in the revival of the Historical Society of Southeastern New Mexico and served as its first museum chairman. His interest in local history and his specific interest in water history led him to do extensive research and writing on both subjects. He also wrote of his World War II experiences. He served on the Board of Directors of the New Mexico Farm and Livestock Heritage Museum as well.
He married Joyce LaSuer Walsh Nelson in 1950. She passed away in 2008 after 58 years of marriage. They have three daughters, Margo Eichwald, Ann Houghtaling, and Jane McLaughlin, seven grandchildren and numerous great and great-great-grandchildren.
Preceding him in death are his parents, his only sister Laurene Eastham and her husband David, nephew Robert Allen Eastham and grandson Stephen Houghtaling.
Before her passing, he and Joyce established two endowed scholarships, one with the NMSU Foundation and one with the ENMU-R Foundation. Subsequently, he established and endowed a fund with the Historical Foundation of Southeastern New Mexico.
Pallbearers will be Luke Davis, Ricardo Eichwald, Esai Goitia, Allyson Houghtaling, Bryan Mager, Marc Reischman, Don Stevenson, Trey Stevenson. Honorary Pallbearers will be Fred Nolan, Ihab Shalaby, and The Thursday Afternoon Coffee Group.
A Viewing will be held Wednesday, March 6, 2019 at LaGrone Funeral Chapel from 9:00AM – 8:00PM. Services will be held at First Baptist Church at the corner of Fifth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue at 2:00PM Thursday, March 7, 2019. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to one of his educational foundations: Morgan and Joyce Nelson Endowed Scholarship NMSU Foundation P.O. Box 3590 Las Cruces NM 88003-3590 payable to NMSU Foundation, or ENMU-Roswell Foundation P.O. BOX 6000 Roswell NM 88202-6000.
Arrangements are under the personal care of LaGrone Funeral Chapel. Online condolences may be made at www.lagronefuneralchapels.com.