Don was born July 5, 1936 in Sprague, WA, to Vester and Gladys (Giffing) Nelson.
He graduated from Lamont High School in 1954 and played basketball at Washington State University for one year before transferring to Eastern Washington University where he earned a scholarship and a starting spot on the basketball team.
He married his high school sweetheart, Sherrill Kelly, in September 1956 and graduated with a teaching degree in 1958.
Don spent the early years of his career teaching and coaching in Ephrata, Rosalia, Othello, and Odessa.
When Sherrill’s father passed away in 1971, the couple moved back to Lamont and took over the family farm where they raised their four children.
He retired in 2010.
A naturally gifted athlete, Don excelled as a basketball player, but his true talent and passion was coaching young players.
He had a unique ability to connect with and bring out the best in the aspiring athletes he coached.
Countless local basketball players and teams improved their skills and developed a love of the game under his tutelage.
Don continued to be sought after as a private coach and was a frequent face in the stands at area basketball games until the time of his death.
Don is survived by his wife of 57 years; daughters, Shari and Patti (Joe); sons, Gary (Paula) and Keith (Staci); sister, Joan; six grandchildren; and one great-grandson.
A funeral service will be held April 24, at 11:30 am, at the First United Methodist Church in St. John.
A potluck reception will follow at the church.
Private interment will take place at Spokane-Cheney Memorial Gardens.
Memorial contributions in Don’s honor may be made to the Lamont Community Church, 501 8th Street, Lamont, WA 99017.
Cheney Funeral Chapel in charge of arrangements.
Online guestbook at cheneyfuneral.com.