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Ronald Ray Nelson

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While traveling and visiting family, Ronald Ray Nelson, 84, of Little Switzerland, passed away peacefully Saturday, Feb. 23. He was cared for in his brother Keith’s home in Yuma, Arizona, and surrounded by his loved ones. 

Ron was born at home, to parents Hans Nelson and Ina Nelson, Sept. 14, 1934, on a small farm in Maskell, Nebraska.

After graduating from Newcastle High School in Nebraska, Ron was enlisted by his brother, Keith, into the Air Force at age 18 and entered flight training. Although he did not pursue a career as a pilot, Ron was exhilarated by being in the air. Ron was married to Elaine for 25 years and had three children, Scott, Tamera and Greg.

Ron always enjoyed working with his hands. At different times, he worked as a car mechanic, assembling his own Bentley GT from a car kit, as a builder, constructing his own home in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and ran a sawmill with his brother, Merlyn.

He lived in Los Angeles, California, and worked for approximately 20 years for the city’s Housing Authority. One of his proudest achievements was the creation of one of the nation’s first Section 8 Housing Assistance Programs, and he was committed to ensuring safe, clean and proper housing for the underserved population. He was noted for his service during fire and earthquake disasters and was awarded an Outstanding Service Award by former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley.

Ron was married to Deborah for 35 years. In their life together he became an endless entrepreneur. They owned and managed three independent video rental stores and a travel agency in Seattle, and most recently The Historic Taxi Stand and Craft Market in Little Switzerland, creating and selling handcrafted items.

Ron loved gardening, and he was an avid fly-fisherman and nature lover, active in conservation. He enjoyed woodworking, ballroom dancing, crossword puzzles and Scrabble, and cooking for his family – he is famous for cinnamon rolls, pancakes and his mother’s fried chicken. His greatest passion was world travel and adventure – he and Debbie visited more than 50 countries.

He was preceded in death by his two sisters, Lois Stockey and Lavon Parchman; and his brother, Harold Nelson. He was also sadly preceded in death by his beloved son, Scott Nelson.

Ronald is survived by his daughter, Tamera Anderson, and her husband, Larry, of Bodfish, California; his son, Greg Nelson, and his wife, Kristy, of Seattle; and his stepdaughter, Dr. Tara Vick, and her husband, Michael, of Charlotte. Ron is also survived by his two brothers, Keith Nelson, of Oroville, California, and Merlyn Nelson, of Harrison, Idaho; and many nieces, nephews, cousins, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Instead of flowers, the family wishes for donations to be made to one of the following organizations: National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Pooler, Georgia, www.mightyeighth.org, the Mitchell County Animal Rescue, www.mitchellcountyanimalrescue.org, or the United Cerebral Palsy Organization, UCP.org. 

Mitchell News-Journal • March 6, 2019

The MItchell News

Mailing Address: PO Box 339 
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Phone: 828-765-7169
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