Howard H. Nelson, 78, of Bozeman and former Livingston resident, died at his home Wednesday, May 23, 2012, surrounded by several members of his large, loving family. He was born October 14, 1933 in Livingston, the son of Harry C. and Susie (Graveley) Nelson, the third of their five children.
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Howard and his family are from a long line of pioneers that helped settle and develop much of the Livingston area. As a child most of his time was spent doing what he loved the most - fishing the nearby rivers and streams and hunting in the mountains near Mission Creek and the West Boulder and surrounding areas.
Howard graduated from Park County High School in the class of 1951. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1952 and served as a Radar Technician at the base in Nak Nak, Alaska, and then in Aiken, S.C. until he returned to his home town in 1956. In 1956 he married Karen Gaustad and they raised their three children, Debbie, Dan and Vicki in Livingston. After divorcing in 1984, Howard later moved to Bozeman. He worked for the Burlington Northern railroad for a brief time, but his ambitious personality drove him to open his first business as a radio and television repair specialist at the age of 27. By 1962 he expanded his horizons and opened Harmony House Furniture on Main Street in Livingston, which sold home furnishings, appliances, music, floor coverings and later Honda motorcycles. With the business being a success, Howard was able to expand with a second store in Bozeman and eventually built the building which is currently occupied by Gallatin Valley Furniture on North 7th Ave. Howard was touted by business associates as being an ethical dealer who was extremely conscientious and who placed customer service at the top of his list. He only ordered the best quality available and always stood behind his service. He took his business from its original inception in Livingston to one of the largest furniture stores in Montana.
Howard received numerous awards from Honda for being their top Honda dealer and traveled to Japan three times, visiting their facilities. He later turned over the Honda Motorcycle business in Livingston to his elder brother Louis. He took on yet another venture and built one of Montana's first Honda Automobile dealerships named Royal Motors, located on Huffine Lane in Bozeman, at which time he sold Harmony House Honda to his brother Bob and discontinued the furniture business. In 1983 Howard took on his final business venture and developed several commercial properties off Huffine Lane in Bozeman including Abba Dabba Storage. In 2005 Howard retired, sold his businesses and pursued his greatest loves of fishing, hiking and spending time with his dearest friends and family.
Howard was always watching over his family and when concerned for their welfare, he took matters into his own hands to help them out. He was the ultimate "Big Brother" and close friend to many. He generously donated to many charities: United Way, Red Cross, The Salvation Army and Disabled American Veterans.
If so desired, memorials may be made to Eagle Mount, Bozeman, Mont., or to the Wounded Warriors.
Howard was preceded in death by his parents, Harry and Susie Nelson; brother Louis Nelson; and sister Virginia (Ginger) Brue. Survivors his children Debbie Nelson of Bozeman, Dan Nelson of Livingston and Vicki (Todd) McDonald of Billings; brothers, George (Ellen) Nelson of Ramsay & Dillon.; Bob Nelson of Las Vegas, Nev.; grandchildren Shelby, Krysta, and Kara Nelson and Samantha McDonald; two great grandsons, Julian and Jayce; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be 1p.m. on Saturday, June 2, at Franzen Davis Funeral Home, 118 N. 3rd St. in Livingston. Graveside committal with military honors and burial will follow at Mountain View Cemetery. A celebration of Howard's life will take place at the Montana Rib and Chop House on East Park Street in Livingston immediately following the interment.
Franzen-Davis Funeral Home & Crematory
118 North Third Street Livingston, MT 59047
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on May 27, 2012