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Obituaries: Saunders; Nelson

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Cynthia Ann Saunders

Cynthia Ann Saunders: 1933 – 2024

Cynthia Ann Collingwood Saunders of Gillette passed away peacefully on February 18, 2024, at the age of 90. She was born in Syracuse, Kansas on October 24,1933, the second of four children born to Alfred John Collingwood and Edna E. Lesh Collingwood.

She graduated from Stanton County High School and Kansas State University. In 1955, after spending a few months teaching in The Bowery, New York City, Cynthia moved to Gillette where she had accepted a job teaching home economics at Campbell County High School.

She met Raymond Don Saunders at the First Presbyterian Church soon after she settled in Gillette. They had an immediate spark, which developed into a life-long love. They were married on November 23, 1956, and three children were fortunate to be born into this union:  Barbara Ann Saunders, Thomas Brian Saunders, and Samuel Mark Saunders.

Cynthia valued education, and believed that life-long learning was one key to a successful life. In 1961, she started a neighborhood pre-school. She was 4-H leader for many years, teaching both boys and girls how to sew and bake cookies. She was a foods and clothing judge at County Fairs throughout Wyoming. In her later years, Cynthia took agriculture and science classes at Gillette College, attending class with her Rodeo Team classmates, and she enjoyed every minute of this experience. Cynthia volunteered at Hillcrest Elementary School where she was invested in the children’s skill and social development, and she looked for ways to enrich the classroom experience with rocks, shells, ants and other things she found in nature. An expert quilter, Cynthia taught quilting workshops throughout Wyoming for many years. She created quilts for each of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, with her final three quilts completed in the last months of her life.

Cynthia was a strong businesswoman. For many years, she operated her fabric store, “And Sew On,” developing relationships with customers from all across the country. She was a partner with her husband Raymond in the creation of Saunders Land and Livestock and she enjoyed going to the ranch and seeing the cattle even in her last week of life. After Raymond started The First National Bank in 1963, Cynthia served as a Bank Director for the remainder of her life. Cynthia was also active in the operation of her family’s lumber, grain and farming businesses in Kansas and she embodied a love and respect for Land Stewardship that was unparalleled.

Devoted to Gillette, Campbell County and Wyoming, Cynthia volunteered many hours to projects that would benefit her community.  She was instrumental in the creation of the Children’s Developmental Center of Campbell County, as well as other community service programs. In the mid 1960’s, she served on the Gillette School Board and worked hard to achieve a county-wide school district. As a member of the Campbell County Hospital Foundation Board, she raised sufficient funds for the creation of the Heptner Cancer Center. She served on the University of Wyoming Foundation Board, as well as the Gillette College Foundation Board. She was passionate about supporting Gillette College. She encouraged the College to offer courses that would address needs she saw in the community, and she strongly supported Gillette College’s independence. Cynthia was a long-time member of the P.E.O. sisterhood. She was a founding member of two Gillette P.E.O. chapters, including chapter BL, where she was an active member in the last years of her life. She enjoyed raising funds to support P.E.O.’s philanthropic, educational projects, and she treasured her long-time friendships with her P.E.O. sisters. She was also a member of American Association of University Women, Alpha Xi Delta, the Order of Eastern Star and the Daughters of the Nile.

Cynthia was preceded in death by her parents ,Fred and Edna E. Collingwood; sisters, Mary Clawson and Martha Barnhardt; brother, John Collingwood; grandson, Garrett Saunders and great-granddaughter, Stella Anne Beard.

She is survived by her husband of 67 years, Raymond Don of Gillette; daughter, Barbara Ann Saunders of Minneapolis, Minnesota; sons, Thomas Brian Saunders (Anne) of Douglas, Wyoming and Samuel Mark Saunders (Lisa) of Gillette; grandchildren: Rebecca Schufman (Jeff), Hallie Lutter, Claire Lutter, Brittanie Sharp (Chris), Marissa Beard (Andrew), Rachel Carlson (Matthew), Emma Saunders, Ben Saunders (Cydney), and Madison Saunders; and fifteen great grandchildren.

Cynthia’s family is grateful for the care provided in the last months of her life by devoted caregivers Barbara, Tami, Chloe and Dianna, and by the wonderful staff of Campbell County Home Hospice. Cynthia’s family is grateful beyond words for their care. Services will be Tuesday, February 27, 2024 at 2:00 p.m. at the Family Life Church in Gillette, with a private family internment, with Pastor Marty Crump officiating.

Visitation will be Sunday, February 25, 2024 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm at the Gillette Memorial Chapel. In lieu of flowers, Cynthia’s family requests memorial gifts to the Gillette College Foundation or the Stella Strong Foundation. A perfect teacher, a perfect wife, a perfect mother and a perfect grandmother.

Frank LeRoy Nelson

Frank LeRoy Nelson: 1954 – 2024

Frank LeRoy Nelson passed away February 20, 2024, in Fort Collins, Colorado after a long battle with diabetes and complications of this disease.

Frank was born in Norton, Kansas and November 23, 1954, to Billie and Patricia Worley Nelson. They moved to Gillette where Frank attended school and graduated from Campbell County High School in 1973. Right out of high school, Frank went to work as a rough neck on a drilling rig. After only two weeks, he was severely injured. He then attended Casper College for a short time where he met and married Monica (Kiki) McElles. To this union a child, Douglas Sherman, was born December 2, 1974. They later divorced.

Frank fell in love and married Marlys Braunstein Christophers on August 4, 1980. At this time, he welcomed three children: Dawnette, Salome, and Phillip and treated them as his own.

Frank worked various jobs throughout his career. He worked in the oil field in Gillette and Riverton, at a meat processing plant in Iowa and then after moving back to Gillette he went to work at the Gillette-News Record and print shops. He also started F.H.G Enterprises where he was a Funeral Transport for Wilson Memorial Chapel. Frank was a man of faith and was involved in many church activities. One of his great adventures of serving God was his trip to Africa, where he joined his church family in helping drill water wells. To this day he dreamed of eventually returning to Africa.

Frank loved theatre, both acting and watching stage performances. He volunteered at Gillette Public Access and was involved with AmeriCorps, Gillette Community Theatre, Buena Vista County Theatre, Family Life Player and Family Life Church. He enjoyed spending time with his dear friend John Simon and his church family. Frank made many trips to Flat Head Lake in Montana to get cherries. He spent many hours canning, making salsa, and green chili burritos. For several years he competed in the chili cook off (Grumpy’s Kitchen) and won numerous prizes.

Those that knew him well knew he was an honest, generous and strong-willed individual. Frank would give a person in need the shirt off of his back. He is survived by his four children: Douglas Sherman of Sheridan; Dawnette or Carroll, Iowa; Salome of Sac City, Iowa; Phillip of Fort Collins, Colorado; brothers: Nyle (Linda), Byron (Jane) Nelson of Gillette, Wyoming, John (Deanna) Nelson of Douglas, Wyoming; eight grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.

Services will be on Thursday at 10:00 a.m. February 29, 2024, at the Family Life Church with Marty Crump officiating.