Tom was born Sept. 15, 1941, in Lemmon, S.D., the son of Fred and Maggie Nelson. He graduated from Black Hills State University and the University of Utah. In 1973 he started a 30-year adventure at Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) ranging from college relations director to acting president and finally retiring in 2007 as the Dean of Industry and Technology.
In 1988 he married his best friend and love Dianne Downing.
Tom is survived by Dianne; daughter Julie and son-in law Paul Gaither of Austin, Texas, daughter Paula and son-in-law, Dan, wonderful grandsons Connor and Taylor Janovy of Spearfish, S.D.; sister Mary Jo and brother-in-law Tom Hill of Deadwood, S.D.; parents-in-laws, Ed and Jeannine Downing, Le Mars; brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, Doug and Sandy Downing of Le Mars and Steve and Sandy Downing of Trubuco Canyon, Calif.; very special nephews Ryan Downing of Des Moines, Mike Downing of Cedar Falls, Hans Frey of Spearfish, S.D.,and beautiful niece, Maggie Frey of Colorado Springs, Colo.; extended family, Angie, Eric , Zachary, Collin and Macy Birch of Owasso, Okla.; aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews; and the light of his life, his dogs Sam and Augie.
The body was cremated and a private family service held Sunday, March 1. A celebration of Tom's life will be held at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 4, at the Westover Funeral Home, 6337 Hickman Road, Des Moines. No neck ties allowed at the service.
Memorial contributions may be given to DMACC in Tom's name.
Happy trails my love until we meet again!