A&F Newsletter

Winter 2010



Ned Wayne Branine, Class of 1950, died June 19 in Winfield, KS. He was 84.

Branine was born April 6, 1926, in Arkansas City to Roy J. and Tressa Meek Branine. He attended local schools. At the age of 17, he joined the Navy and served in the South Pacific during World War II. At the end of the war, he took a goodwill cruise to South America on the Battleship USS Wisconsin where he was a PhM 3rd class.

After his discharge from the Navy, he attended Ark City Junior College and was assistant manager for the Burford Theater. He married Duana Boswell on January 21, 1950.

After graduating from ACJC, he was one of the first employees hired by the General Electric Company at Strother Field in 1951. He was a technical representative for GE at various US Air Force bases before returning to Strother in 1966 as a jet propulsion engineer. He retired in 1987.

He was a member of St. Paul United Methodist Church, the VFW, USS Wisconsin Association, and Destroyer Escort Sailors Association.

Luella Nelson, 82, died November 14, 2010 after a four-month battle with cancer. She was born in Frizelle, Kansas to parents Vessie Stone Smith and Benjamin John Smith on October 13, 1928.

Preceding Lu in death was her husband of 47 years, Gwen Nelson, who served as the president of Cowley County Community College from 1968 to 1987.

Lu and Gwen were married in May of 1946 and they began a long journey together while Gwen continued his education to eventually serve 20 years as the president of Cowley County Community College and then on to the State Board of Education in Kansas. At one time in their early marriage, Lu made the decision to sell the clarinet that she used to win the Silver Medal in a state competition in order to buy Gwen’s first semester text books. Gwen had been a 16 yearold high school dropout prior to joining the Navy in World War II and when he returned to Wichita and married Lu, he returned to Wichita High School North and completed all requirements for graduation in one semester.

Lu was the primary fundraiser, secretary, treasurer, and support group for whatever projects the two were involved in. As the Endowment Chairwoman at Cowley County Community College she almost single-handedly raised $1,000,000 for the Endowment Association.

The college was an important part of their lives together – the couple attended nearly every musical production, play, or game that the college kids were involved in, even to the extent of driving to most away games for football and basketball.

She was also very active in landscaping the college grounds as a volunteer. There was no budget for anything other than lawn maintenance so Lu took on the job at no pay and spent 6-8 hours a day designing, digging and planting flowerbeds around the college in the center of Arkansas City, Kansas.

Her efforts at Cowley College led to having a building named after her and Gwen – the “Gwen and Lu Nelson Student Center” on the main campus in Arkansas City.

When the couples’ children, Mike and Marsha were born, she enjoyed her life as a stay-at-home mother. She was involved in Brownies, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts throughout the early years. She was very supportive of her family’s special projects. She was a published author, read voraciously, loved gardening, journalism, photography and was deeply involved in genealogy – she would be very upset to know she died before all of her pictures were completely labeled.

She and Gwen were founding members of Riverlawn Christian Church at 25th and Amidon where she was the volunteer Office Manager for several years -- Lu continued to be a strong Christian throughout her life. She loved to travel and had done so extensively (she and Gwen visited every National Park in the United States) – she had visited the Holy Land twice, Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and the River Cruise up the Danube. She just returned from a much-anticipated tour of the Mediterranean with a group of 41 very dear church friends where she celebrated her 82nd birthday. She actually asked her doctor to schedule the chemotherapy around the trip.

Winter 2010