Gary “Corky” Nelson

Gary Dean “Corky” Nelson, age 86, was born on July 15, 1935, to Melvin and Helen (Westbrook) Nelson on the family farm four miles west of Martin. Corky was the youngest of five children. He attended Bennett County schools, where during his senior year at a fair dance, he met the love of his life, Dorene Williams. The two became high school sweethearts. Upon high school graduation in 1953, Corky worked for the state highway department.

On July 16, 1955, Corky and Dorene were married. This was the day after Corky’s birthday and was chosen for the wedding date so that Dorene wouldn’t be older than him. For the first few years of their marriage, Corky worked for the ASCS office. In 1959 the pair moved a trailer home to the Melvin Nelson homeplace, where Corky farmed with his dad. To this union, six children were born: Gwen, Timm, Randy, Mark, Patricia (Tish), and Mary Ellen.

Gary was an active member of the Democratic party, Jaycee’s, and the Knights of Columbus. He served as president of the school board, the South Dakota public television board, Farmer’s Co-op board, Nebraska Railroad board, the Bennett County hospital board, and the commercial club. He was also elected and proudly served in the South Dakota state Senate. In addition to his many public services, Corky was an American Family Insurance agent and real estate broker for 47 years, proudly serving his community. He was a very loving and patient husband, father, and grandfather. 

Corky died peacefully at his beloved home on October 14, 2021. Corky is survived by his wife, Dorene, of 66 years. His children, Gwen (Giles), and their children Nicole, Jake, Rachel, and great-grandchild Noah. Timm (Heidi) and their son Hunter. Randy (Diana) and their children Tonya, Dillon, Katy, Kristen, and Maggie. Mark and his children Brandon, Ashley, and Marley. Tish (Mike) and their children Macy, Sam, and Chaz. Mary Ellen (Stan) and their children Hayley (Cameron), Hanna, and Leah.

Corky was preceded into death by his parents Melvin and Helen, twin sister Gwen Doreen, who died at the age of four from measle complications, sister Elwanda, and brothers Lyle, Paul, and Bob.

Funeral services will be held Thursday, October 21, 2021, 10:30 a.m. at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Martin. 

Burial will be held in the Martin Catholic Cemetery. Arrangements by Bennett County Funeral Service.

502 Second Avenue, Martin, SD 57551 • 605-685-6866 •