Lee Alvin Nelson, age 89, of Iola, died Monday, July 11th, 2011 at Iola Living Assistance. He was born on September 9, 1921 to Alvin and Hannah M. (Guerin) Nelson in Iola, WI. Lee graduated from Iola High School with the class of 1939. After high school he attended Virginia Junior College in Minnesota and studied mechanical engineering. In 1942 he was drafted into the Army where he trained as a pilot to fly B-17 bombers during World War II, as part of the 381st Bombardment Group out of Ridgewell Station 167 Air Field in England. Here he flew the B-17 “Flying Fortress” bomber on 31 combat missions over Germany and German occupied France. On July 23, 1944 Lee was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross as recognition for his heroism and extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight during World War II. Back home after the war Lee became a member of the Iola Winter Sports Club board of directors, where he helped rebuild Hogsback Ski Hill, which was located just north of Iola. In 1949 he began working as lineman for the Iola Scandinavia Telephone Company until his retirement on September 30, 1986. He had many interests including; building and flying radio controlled model airplanes, fishing, and carving. He was a member of the Sons of Norway-Norskeland Lodge 5-580 and the Mid-Wisconsin Chippers Woodcarving Club. He participated in many woodcarving shows in the area. On February 5-6, 2011 the Iola Winter Sports club honored Lee by naming him the Grand Marshall of the 50th Annual Iola Winter Carnival.
During the last year and a half, Lee shared his life story with Lyle Mork, President of the Iola Historical Society. Lyle wrote a book about Lee’s life and family before and after the war “Iola’s Humble Hero, Lee Nelson WWII B-17 Pilot”. On May 4th, 2011 a book presentation was organized at the Iola Historical Society, with the assistance of Chet Krause, in honor of Lee. On June 4th, 2011 a book signing took place at the Iola Historical Society with over 300 people in attendance purchasing books and visiting with Lee. Survivors: a special niece, Martha Nelson-DeYoung, her husband Brad of Friesland; a special nephew, Jon & Suzie Nelson of Rice Lake, the Lashua family; Robert and Carol, Bill, Richard, John, Jack, and Sue Lashua-Voie, who were a close family and dear friends, close friends; Lyle Mork, Chet Krause, Merlin Mayer, sister-in-law, David (Marlene) Nelson, nephew John Barnes, nieces; Nancy Nelson, Susan Nelson -Hausz, and Dawn Marie Barnes-Meusey, other relatives and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, a step mother, Adella (Larson) Nelson, two younger brothers, Philip and David Nelson, one younger sister, Grace (Nelson) Barnes-Klarkowski, one niece Patti Nelson-Kreitzman, one sister-in-law Lorraine Nelson. A Funeral Service was held at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Iola on Saturday, July 16, 2011 at 11:00 AM with Reverend Dennis Olson officiating. Visitation was held at the church on Saturday from 10:00 AM until the time of service. Interment will be in the parish cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to the Iola Historical Society in memory of Lee. Register Book and online condolences may be sent by visiting www.voiefuneralhome.com