Nelson Daniel Durst passed away peacefully at his home on December 6, 2010 with family by his side. He had been in declining health for the past few years, but he lived a long and happy life, over 94 years. He was a resident of the Bryan-College Station area since coming to graduate school at Texas A&M in 1937.
Nelson was born on a small farm in Pontotoc, Texas on July 26, 1916, the first child of Richard and Anna Jordan Durst. About age four, his family moved to the Art community in Mason County, Texas, where his Durst and Jordan ancestors had lived since the 1850s. Nelson was in the third generation on both sides of his German family born in the United States, Texas in particular. He spoke only German until he started school.
Education was important to his parents, so they and Nelson worked hard to get his college education at Southwestern University, a Methodist university in Georgetown, Texas, where he met his future wife Annie Bishop, originally from Georgetown, in a math class at the beginning of their senior year. Nelson graduated with honors with a degree in Economics at the age of 19. Jobs were scarce, but Nelson was lucky and got a job in Fayetteville, teaching junior high, coaching women’s baseball, and teaching German in the high school. After one year, he went back to Southwestern and earned another bachelor’s degree (in Accounting.) A Southwestern University Professor M. L. Williams suggested Nelson attend graduate school at Texas A&M, where he earned a master’s degree in Accounting in 1939. He was appointed to the Accounting faculty at A&M and was promoted to full professor at age 28. With a “permanent” teaching job at A&M, Nelson married Annie Bishop from Georgetown, Texas in 1941.
Nelson became a Certified Public Accountant in 1940 and served as Secretary/Treasurer of the Texas Society of CPAs and editor of its monthly publication, The Texas Accountant, in the mid 1940s. He left teaching in 1955 to start an accounting practice full time in Bryan, Texas. He was in partnership for many years with his friend and colleague Bob Wood. Nelson was devoted to serving his clients, who in most cases were or became his friends. In 2004, at age 88, Nelson finally retired from the CPA firm he founded and which still bears his name, Durst, Milberger, Nesbitt, and Ask, CPA.
Nelson was devoted to his family and to the A&M United Methodist Church, serving as its Treasurer or Chairman of the Finance Committee for over 20 years. When Nelson passed away, he was the longest term member of the Church. He was also the only remaining charter member of the Kiwanis Club of College Station. Nelson served other community organizations, like the Brazos River Authority and Habitat for Humanity. His favorite universities were Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, where he and Annie endowed a scholarship in memory of their parents and one in memory of Nelson’s mentor professor M. L. Williams, and Texas A&M, where they endowed a scholarship in the School of Business. Some years ago, a former student arranged for a foundation to endow a Chair in Nelson’s name in the Accounting Department at Texas A&M.
Nelson was preceded in death by his parents and his sister Mildred Woods and his brothers-in-law Robert Woods and Harry Holmes. He is survived by his wife of 69 years Annie, his daughters Margaret Durst Godfrey of College Station and Janet Durst Nicholls and husband Bill of Palo Alto, California, grandchildren Larry Godfrey Jr. and wife Lydia of College Station, Emilie Sweet of Palo Alto, California and Marjorie Sweet McPherson and husband Brian of Riverside, California, and twin great grandsons Zachary Daniel and Dylan Ray Godfrey. He also leaves his sister Lillian Gips and husband Paul and nieces and nephews, cousins, friends, clients, and colleagues.
The family is appreciative of the many visits by loyal former employees, friends and family, with special thanks for the capable, loving care provided by the staff of Esperanza Senior Living, Hospice Brazos Valley, and other special caregivers.
Nelson Durst will be remembered in a service at the A&M United Methodist Church at 2p.m., Saturday, December 11, 2010. Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m., at Callaway-Jones Funeral Home in Bryan. Interment will be in the College Station Cemetery in a private service. In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made to the A&M United Methodist Church Building Fund, 417 University Drive, College Station, TX 77840 or to Hospice Brazos Valley, 502 W. 26th Street, Bryan, Texas 77803.