Lieutenant Colonel Minor Kelso (1923 - 2013)

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Lieutenant Colonel Minor Kelso

May 18, 1923

March 16, 2013

Lieutenant Colonel Minor Kelso, US Army, (Ret) died peacefully in his home in Reno, March 16, with his beloved wife at his side.

Born in South Dakota in 1923, and raised in Winnemucca, Nevada, LTC Kelso loved the great State of Nevada. He returned as often as he could to smell the high desert's sagebrush and view "his" Ruby and Sierra Nevada mountains. A popular student and outstanding athlete at Winnemucca High School, Minor was one of the state's best distance runners.

Upon finishing high school, he received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, graduating with the Class of 1946. It was there he began a long and distinguished military career.

LTC Kelso's service included duty in Japan, Okinawa, three tours of duty in Korea, and key assignments throughout the United States. His first tour in Korea, shortly after graduation from West Point, was as an advisor to the newly-formed Korean Army. He was one of a few select officers chosen in 1947 to assist the Koreans in their beginning struggle with the communists for control of the country. He was in continuous combat for 22 months, participating in major actions during the period preceding the Korean War.

He served as an Airborne Ranger Company Commander and later an instructor in the Ranger Department of the Infantry School at Ft. Benning, Georgia. While there he was instrumental in establishing the Jungle and Amphibious Training Center in Florida, developing training methods still used by Rangers today.

Later, following additional duty overseas, LTC Kelso became an ROTC Instructor at the University of Arizona. His final assignment was as a Battalion Commander and later Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, US Army Training Center, Fort Ord, California. His decorations include multiple army commendation medals for valor and distinguished service, overseas ribbons, and the army's Legion of Merit.

Upon retirement in 1968, LTC Kelso returned to Carson City, where he had an exceptional second career as the director of Nevada's Medicaid program, a position he held for 13 years.

Minor and Maxine enjoyed an active retirement. Together, they developed the Sierra Shadows Guest Ranch in Genoa, traveled, and enjoyed the company of their family and friends. They lived in Green Valley, Arizona for several years, before returning home to Minor's beloved Nevada.

Throughout his life, Minor maintained a spirit of curiosity and a zest for life.

He enjoyed mountain climbing, which included Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, tennis, and a host of other sports and activities. He especially enjoyed blue water sailing and hiking. He was an avid skier - skied on the Army Ski Team in Japan.

LTC Kelso served on multiple boards and committees and participated in community service as a volunteer. He was actively concerned with making life better for people and animals, and protecting the environment.

He was President of the Association of Ranger Infantry Companies (Airborne) of the Korean War, served on the Board of Directors of the Veteran's Guest House Foundation, and was a leading member of numerous organizations. LTC Kelso received many awards, community honors, and commendations. He was the "Oldest Grad" of the West Point Society of Northern Nevada, a position that delighted him in 2012.

LTC Kelso is survived by Maxine, his wife of 51 years, daughter Kathleen Sarman, son-in-law Stan Sarman, three grandchildren, Christopher Sarman, Helen Calaway, and Adam Sarman, four great grandchildren, daughter Casey, and son Brad by a former marriage.

He was preceded in death by his father Floyd and mother Helen Salter, and his brother Ted.

Lieutenant Colonel Minor Kelso ardently believed in the values of Duty, Honor, Country instilled in him at West Point. He considered them the guiding principles of his life. He was a tough soldier and a gentle man. A Celebration of Life is planned for a later date. He will be missed by all who knew him.

Published in Reno Gazette-Journal on Mar. 31, 2013
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