Margaret was part of an Episcopalian church when she first sensed a heaviness in her heart and knew that something wasn’t quite right. She asked to talk to the Rector at the church and they visited for a while. At the end of that conversation Margaret was asked if she felt better, but Margaret answer was “not really.” The Rector then asked her if she had even received Christ. Margaret told her she had not so she prayed right then and there, receiving Christ as her Savior, knowing the joy of her sins forgiven. Margaret was so happy that she sang all the way home, and she wanted to share it with everyone.
Margaret grew up in Wichita and as a teenager worked at Joyland Park. There she met a young man named Stan Nelson and their relationship grew. They were married in December of 1950 and they both continued to work at Joyland. Later when the opportunity came to buy the park, they took it. Stan and Margaret became the proud owners of Joyland and operated it until it closed in 2006. For 51 years it was their life and since it was open every day of the week it left little time for ministry in the church. But Margaret and Stan grew in the Lord as they attended First Free when Pastor Mike was pastor the first time. They also benefited much from the great Bible teaching of Ed Pointer for over 35 years. Ed’s wife Jeanne is here today!
God used Margaret and Stan outside of the walls of the church and within the walls of Joyland, using their gifts of hospitality and administration to bless many families in the Wichita area and beyond. They loved people and loved to see people having fun. They also had the opportunity to share their source of joy, Jesus Christ, with many of those they came in contact with.
Many here at First Free have fond memories of Joyland. First Free had several all-church picnics there and of course Joyland was a favorite destination of family outings for many at church. Jo Coltrain recalls: “Those hours spent at Joyland are some of our best family memories. The wonderful roller coaster was such a big hit. One special day, it was just our church in the park. My three boys would just get off the coaster and then head right back to the front to ride it again. I can’t remember the count now, but it was something like 15 or 16 times on that roller coaster. When it was time for a little refreshment and we headed to the concession stand, I would always glance behind the counter to see if Margaret was back there – making funnel cakes or popping popcorn. Somehow our family felt special that we knew Margaret and Stan, the owners of Joyland.” Because of their warm and welcoming ways, Stan and Margaret were what made Joyland, Joyland and such a favorite place for many people.
For 59 ½ years Margaret was married to the love of her life and God blessed them with two boys and two girls. Their children were also very active in the park. Stan and Margaret were also blessed with 17 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Stan’s death in 2010 was a heartache for Margaret but it was God’s plan for Margaret to marry the second love of her life, Gene Spear. Margaret and Gene just celebrated their 22nd month anniversary.
Advice to First Free Women:
- Love the Lord with all your heart. Pray and listen to Him.
- Love your husband and make the most of your time together. Yes, you need to take care of your children, but your husband should be number 1 in your life. After the children have their own lives, it is then just the two of you. Be sure that you have nurtured your love for each other through those years of raising your family.