Nelson Saner(1953 - 2013)

Nelson Saner


Nelson Saner, 59, passed away on March 26, 2013 at the Central Iowa Health Care System (Veterans Hospital) in Des Moines, Iowa.

Nelson was born on May 14, 1953 in Ottumwa, Iowa, the son of Everett Saner and Rosalia Schaffer. He grew up in Ankeny and graduated from Ankeny High School in 1971. He also graduated from American Institute of Business in 1982 with an accounting degree.

Nelson enlisted in the United State Marine Corps in 1971. He proudly served from 1971 to 1973 as a Lance Corporal in Okinawa, Japan during the Vietnam conflict until he was honorably discharged due to an auto accident while in transit to active duty. Nelson firmly believed that "once a Marine always a Marine".

After returning home from active duty, Nelson was introduced to Phyllis Onstot by his mother and they were united in marriage on July 2, 1975. They had two children Holly and Travis. After almost 10 years of marriage, they were later divorced. He then met Jean Hartley Buhlman while working at the same state agency. They were married in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 23, 1995 while attending a national rehabilitation conference.

Nelson was employed at various jobs throughout his career: Des Moines Steel as a welder; Massey Ferguson as an assembler; the Veterans Administration Hospital as an accountant; and, the United States Postal Service as a mail processing clerk for the last 17 years. Nelson enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren at Adventureland, the Botanical Center, the PRCA Rodeo, Kids Fest, sledding, and numerous other activities. Nelson always looked forward to his summer vacations preferring to travel to the western part of the United States with his wife. He looked forward to retirement where he could travel extensively with his grandchildren with a future trip to Australia.

He will be greatly missed by family, friends, and co-workers. Anyone that ever met Nelson will never forget him. Nelson would continually challenge family and acquaintances with his knowledge of trivia. With his impressionable physical stature and flowing white hair, he was often mistaken for a pro-wrestler and once when he and Jean were on vacation in Las Vegas, he was asked by several passersby as to what his "stage name" was. He had such beautiful hair that often people (even his hospice nurses) would ask permission to touch it.

Survivors include his wife, Jean; daughter, Holly Brazelton of Norwalk; son, Travis Onstot (Shelby) of Milo; step children: Shelby Buhlman (Tracey) of Evansdale; Rayna Allin (James) of Independence, Missouri; Corynne Bates (John) of Fairbank; three brothers: Robertson (Peggy) of Show Low, Arizona; Dennis of Newton; David (Carla) of Austin, Texas; two sisters: Nancy Smith (Mark) of Omaha, Nebraska; Linda Saner of Nashville, Tennessee; eight grandchildren: Cassandra, Austin, Bryce, Dayne, Jordyn, Harper, Tanner and Reece; his mother, Rosalia of Nashville, Tennessee; and numerous nephews and nieces.

Nelson was preceded in death by his father, Everett and his older brother, Edward.

Nelson will be cremated and a memorial service will be held on Friday, March 29, 2013 at 12:30 p.m. at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery in Van Meter, Iowa where military honors will be rendered. Interment will be at the Veterans Cemetery. According to Nelson's wishes, there will be no visitation. There will be a Celebration of Life following the memorial service for family and friends at the Mansions at Hemingway Clubhouse, 6701 Hemingway Street, Johnston, Iowa.

Favorite stories, remembrances, or special thoughts may be submitted to the email address below, to be included in a scrapbook for his children and grandchildren to enjoy and remember their father and grandfather.

Nelson's family would like to extend their sincere, heart-felt thanks to all of the staff at the Veterans Hospital and Mercy In-Home Hospice Care for their compassionate loving care of their husband, father, brother, and grandfather.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Iowa Veterans Cemetery in Van Meter, Iowa. On-line condolences may be directed to


Published in Des Moines Register on Mar. 28, 2013