Cover photo for Phyllis Nelson's Obituary
Phyllis Nelson Profile Photo

Phyllis Nelson

February 17, 1938 — December 3, 2013

Phyllis Nelson

Phyllis L. Nelson, 75, of Viola, Illinois died Tuesday, December 3, 2013 at OSF St. Mary’s Hospital, Galesburg.

Services are 2:00 p.m. Monday, December 9, 2013 at Calvary Lutheran Church, New Windsor. Burial is in Hopewell Cemetery, New Windsor. Visitation is Sunday, December 8 from 3:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the church. Dennison Funeral Home, Viola is handling arrangements. The family request, that in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to Mercer County Youth Livestock Auction, Hopewell Cemetery or Calvary Lutheran Church.

Phyllis was born February 17, 1938 in Galesburg, Illinois a daughter of Wilson and Avice Fink Gardner. She married Jerry Stead. She later married LeRoy “Spud” Nelson on April 5, 1964 in Aledo. He died Jan. 31, 2006.

She graduated from Alwood High School. She was actively involved on her farm in the Viola area. She was a breeder of Red Angus Cattle and a member of the Red Angus Association.

Phyllis was a founding leader of the Country Kids 4-H Club and was inducted into the 4-H Hall of Fame. Her 4-H worked touched hundreds of young children and families throughout the country. She was a host mother for the 4-H IFYE program.

Along with “Spud”, Phyllis farmed – milking cows, cattle, hogs, grain and horses – along with their crew of kids. She loved teaching them how to garden, break club calves, anything to do with farming, and for fun, ride horses. She was a founding member of the New Windsor Drill Team. Her campsite was well known for good food and fun. She enjoyed sharing her love of horses with her children and grand children.

She was a wonderful mentor and friend to her children, grandchildren and their friends. Her door was always open, she was just a call away.

Phyllis and “Spud” hosted a family hog roast in September, which continued for 40 years, ending in 2012.

She was a member of Calvary Lutheran Church where she had served as a Sunday School teacher, Luther League leader and a past chairman of the Rodeo Church Tent. She also was a member of the Viola Lions Club.

She was employed 15 years at Good’s in Kewanee.

She is survived by her children, Darrin (Lanie) Nelson, Orion, Joe (Laura) Stead, Viola, Sharon (John) Tahere, Davenport, Nancy (Bob) Olson, New Windsor, Gary Nelson, Viola, Curt (Tammy) Nelson, Aledo and Michael (Patty) Nelson, Viola; 22 grandchildren and 25 great grandchildren; sister, Eleanor Yancey and brothers, Richard Gardner and Robert Gardner.

She was preceded in death by her husband, parents, daughter Connie and grandchildren Helen, Jerry and Anna.

Online condolences may be left at

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