By Augustus Gill
Colorado Farm Bureau recently lost an incredible family member. Nell Brown Propst (age 93) passed away in Wheat Ridge, Colorado after several years of battling Alzheimer’s disease. A well-renowned historian, author, teacher, playwright, and theater director, as well as a beloved friend and mother, Nell will be remembered by the many whose lives she touched.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama on September 23, 1925, Nell was the second of four girls. She grew to love theater and writing at a young age, making it no surprise that she pursued degrees in English and Theater from Howard College (now Samford University) in Birmingham. She graduated college when she was nineteen and began teaching in Talladega, Alabama. Shortly after, she accepted a position in Colorado at Sterling Junior College (now Northeastern Junior College) before pursuing graduate-level education in theater from the University of Denver. It was there she met her husband, Keith.
Following Keith’s service in the Korean War, the couple returned to the Propst family farm and ranch approximately one mile southeast of Merino, Colorado. Along with raising crops and cattle, Nell and Keith raised four children: Thomas (Kim), Joel, Koger and Holly. Operating the Propst Bar 3 Ranch, which was designated as a Colorado Centennial Farm in 1986, the family continued to develop their already deep-rooted passion for agriculture. In 1951, Nell and Keith became members of Colorado Farm Bureau and they both served the agricultural community in remarkable ways.
Keith held a position on the Colorado Farm Bureau Board of Directors for a total of 34 years, 18 of which he served as President. To-date, he remains the longest-standing president to ever serve the organization. As his wife, Nell was always by his side lending support. She also contributed to Farm Bureau’s heritage through her talents in writing and expertise in theater. A huge contributor in celebrating Colorado Farm Bureau’s Anniversaries, in 1969, Nell wrote and directed “The Journey”, a theatrical production celebrating the organization’s 50th Anniversary and she authored the book Grassroots People, a history of Colorado Farm Bureau for the 75-Year Celebration.
Despite the many demands of ranch life and the countless hours she invested into her Farm Bureau involvement, which Nell embraced with every fiber of her being, she still managed to direct numerous community theater productions and write over 30 plays, books and short stories; she also authored many book reviews, stories for magazines and newspaper articles.
Nell was actively involved in the local historical society where she researched the people and history of the area with accuracy and wisdom. She was a true historian, and her contribution to Colorado history and Colorado Farm Bureau will live on for generations to come.
Colorado Farm Bureau extends its utmost gratitude to the late Nell Brown Propst for the life she led as well as the legacy she left behind. You will be greatly missed, Nell. Thank you for the light you brought to all at Colorado Farm Bureau and beyond.
Memorial Service Information:
A memorial service to commemorate the life and memory of Nell Brown Propst will be held on Saturday, August 24th at 2:00 P.M. The service will be located in Sterling, Colorado at the First Presbyterian Church, 130. South 4th Street. Donations in Nell’s honor can be made to:
Nell and Keith Propst Memorial Scholarship Fund
100 College Avenue
Sterling CO, 80751
Overland Trail Museum
110 Overland Trail
Sterling, CO 80751
*Parts of this article were sourced from Nell Propst’s obituary.