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Joyland's Stan Nelson Remembered

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Friday, July 16, 2010

For generations of Wichitans summer fun meant one thing: a day at Joyland Amusement Park.

Many of Joyland's former employees attended funeral services Friday for Joyland's longtime owner and operator, Stanley Roger Nelson. Nelson died Tuesday at the age of 87.

It's only fitting that the church foyer of the First Evangelical Free Church in Wichita had one of the horses from the Joyland Carousel positioned next to Stan Nelson's casket. Around the church in the 1800 block of North Woodlawn several pieces of memorabilia from Joyland's better days brought back memories of the theme park.

Nelson, a native of Mount Vernon, New York, came to Wichita after World War II and worked at Joyland while attending Wichita State University. At Joyland he met the love of his life, Margaret. The couple later purchased the amusement park which provided so much fun for Wichitans for more than a half a century. They took over the park from the Ottaway family, who founded Joyland.

Nelson continued to work past the age others retire to make certain the park remained open. Eventually Nelson's efforts were not enough. Though the Nelson's made attempts to sell the park, ultimately those attempts failed. That's something Margaret Nelson can make light of now. She says her husband would have loved the turnout to his memorial service, and says he's probably already busy with work in heaven.


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