John Nelson Ekberg was born October 19, 1936 in Wray, Colorado. He arrived safely in his heavenly home on March 5, 2014 from Hillcrest Care Center in Wray at the age of seventy-seven. Nelson, as he was known, was the youngest child of John Henry and Rhoda Velma (May) Ekberg, joining brother Harry and sister Rhoda on the family farm near Beecher Island, Colorado.
He attended grade school at the one-room school house at Beecher Island and high school in Wray, graduating with the class of 1954. During his high school years he was an honor student and excelled in football, basketball and baseball. He later attended Rocky Mountain Bible Institute in Denver where he met his future wife, Jacqueline Ralston.
Nelson and Jacque were married October 12, 1957 at the Evangelical Free Church in Orleans, Nebraska. Five daughters were born to them: Rhoda Kathleen, Constance JaNel, Karen Ann, Laura Jean and Lisa Joy.
Nelson received Christ as his savior during special meetings held in the old auditorium at Beecher Island in 1949. He was baptized in the Johnny Mann pond in a pasture east of there. That decision as a lad guided the rest of his life and he was known for his love of God’s Word, his sincere concern for others, and his quiet faith.
Nelson’s wife Jacque was the love of his life. He cherished his five daughters. From the time they could ride in a pickup there was almost always a girl at his side. They all remember his patience with their mistakes, his love and compassion, and his encouragement in every life situation. His nine grandchildren and little great-grandson brought him much joy.
Nelson loved the Beecher Island Sunday School and its people. He helped with building the little white church as a boy, the present church in 1980 and later bricking it. He served as adult teacher, superintendent, and board member. He had many missionary friends and prayed for them faithfully. Over the years he preformed numerous weddings, funerals and speaking engagements in the area. He was long-time member of the Beecher Island Battle Memorial Association Board, and the Armel Cemetery Board.
Nelson operated the family farm with his father after he was married. He enjoyed all of the farm work, but especially loved putting up hay and working with the black angus cattle. He was happiest on the back of a horse, checking the state of his herds and pastures. He enjoyed working the ring at the sale barn for years and also was an auctioneer for a period of time. In 1985 he sold his share of the family farm and the family moved to Wray where he continued to be employed in farm operations.
In 1997 he sustained a traumatic brain injury in a fall which made life increasingly difficult for him. Nelson and his family were the recipients of great kindness and support at that time. From 2002 until his death he resided at Stephen’s Farm in Greeley, Carriage House in Holyoke and Hillcrest Care Center in Wray with frequent and loving visits from his family. He became friends with staff and residents at each place and his family has appreciated the friendship and care he received.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his sister, Rhoda Renzelman; sisters-in-law Beulah Ekberg and Annette Ralston; and brother-in-law, Stevan Ralston.
He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Jacque Ekberg; their daughters, Kathy and husband Mike Polland, Connie Ekberg, Karen and husband John Willard, Laurie and husband Kris Jones, and Lisa Ekberg and friend Paul Frese; grandchildren, Anna and Ellie Pollard, Jessica, Logan and Austin Willard, Megan and husband Casey Harrel, Ben Jones and Lindsey Jones, Heather Jones and friend Cody Perrin; great-grandson Jaxon Harrel; brother, Harry Ekberg; brothers-in-law, Alfred Renzelman and Gary Ralston; sisters-in-law, Karen and husband Harvey Chamberlain and Karen DeLay.
A memorial service celebrating his life and faith was held at the Beecher Island Sunday School in rural Yuma County March 8, 2014. Interment was in the Armel Cemetery. Spellman-Schmidt Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.