Bisch Funeral Home

2931 South Koke Mill Road, Springfield, IL


John Hofstad Kelson

November 14, 1927August 21, 2020

On Friday, August 21, 2020, sitting in his recliner, book on his lap, caramel latte at his side, John Hofstad Kelson, 92, nodded off and slipped from this life. He was born in Pierre, South Dakota, on November 14, 1927, to Elmer J. and Gudrun Hofstad Kelson, Norwegian immigrants. John is survived by his wife, Ann, step-children Robyn (Steven) Brittain, Thomas (Marie) Myers and Kerry (Lori) Myers, several step-grandchildren and great grandchildren, sisters-in-law, Elizabeth L. (Paul) Eckert, Molly (Charles) Lamb, niece Susan Kelson, nephews Steven Kelson, David Kelson and James (Jinger) Kelson, and cousin, Ralph (Virginia) Iverson. He was preceded in death by his parents, and two brothers Clinton Ness and Robert Kelson.

John received a B.A. degree from Cornell College, Iowa a M.A. in English Literature from the University of Minnesota, and a Ph.D. in English and French literature from the University of Kansas. He did post graduate study at the University of Oslo and the University of Oxford. His teaching career included positions at the University of Utah, Montana State University, Dickinson State University in South Dakota, and Mankato State University in Minnesota.

John approached all of life as a scholar—of the poet, Emily Dickinson, of Norwegian and Irish theater, of Medieval French Literature, of early botanical explorations of the west, of the history around the early American settlements in Texas, of the philosopher, Hegel, of providential theology, and most recently of the pre-Hebraic era in ancient Egypt. He read several languages and was learning Hebrew. As a CoVid distraction, he delved into early Lincoln history in Illinois, the geology of the Sangamon River, and lakes, creeks and streams in Sangamon County. Every topic of study compelled his complete attention and consumed him with joy. He was happiest with a book in his hand!

We will remember John for his quiet ways, his incredibly sharp mind and his single-mindedness when in pursuit of new knowledge. He was one of the pure in heart.

Arrangements are under the direction of Bisch Funeral Home West, Springfield. A private graveside service will be held and a Celebration of Life is being planned for later in the Fall.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


John Hofstad Kelson

have a memory or condolence to add?

Steve Kelson

August 24, 2020

Ann, my deepest sympathies.
We loved every visit you and John made to Texas for Christmas.
I wish to speak with you, dear soul.


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