Lawrence R. "Larry" Nelson (1931 - 2014)

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Lawrence R. (Larry) Nelson, 83 of Marianna passed away Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at Jackson Hospital. Mr. Nelson was born Jan. 13, 1931 to Thomas Jefferson Nelson and Lucy Jacobson Nelson in Mobile,
He was preceded in death by his sister, Shirley Nelson Thomas of Mobile, Ala., and his brothers, George Nelson of Mobile, Ala. and Thomas Nelson of Ft. Worth, Texas.
He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Hazel Burns Nelson of Marianna; his two sons, Richard Alan Nelson and John Lawrence Nelson, both of Marianna; two daughters-in-law, Amy Smith Nelson of Marianna, and Kena Hartzog Nelson of Marianna; one granddaughter, Emma (daughter of Richard and Amy Nelson); brother, William "Billy" Nelson (wife Tina) of Fort Walton; sister, Ginger Nelson Hurn (husband Paul) of Mobile, Ala.; sister, Betty Nelson Estep (husband Eugene) of Warner Robins, Ga. and many nieces and nephews, and his dear and loving golden Labrador Retriever, Charlie.
Mr. Nelson attended Asbury College in 1950 with the initial intent of studying Medicine, but was drafted to serve in the Korean War in 1951 and discovered his true loves, music and choral performing. After being discharged from the U.S. Army, he returned to Asbury College to pursue the study of music, earning his Bachelor's Degree in 1957. He later earned a Masters of Music Education from Florida State University around 1962. After teaching voice and music at DeFuniak Springs High School from 1957 until 1960, Mr. Nelson moved to Marianna and began his role as the very first Chairman of the Fine Arts Department at Chipola Junior College. He has been affectionately named Chipola College's "Father of the Fine Arts" because of his undying and steadfast passion for promoting the Fine Arts from very early in the life of the college, and forward to his retirement in 1987 when he established the Violet H. McClendon Scholarship. Along the way, Mr. Nelson was the driving force behind creation of the Chipola Regional Symphony Orchestra, and a string program which was offered for a time in the Jackson County public school system. He also organized and conducted numerous choral and orchestral performances including Handel's Messiah, the Faure' Requiem, and many others. Mr. Nelson truly left his mark on the program, and on Chipola College. Mr. Nelson served as choir director in numerous churches from the time he was a very young man. He was choir director for many years at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Marianna, First Presbyterian Church in Dothan, AL and as of Oct. 27, 2013 he retired as director of music at the First Presbyterian Church in Marianna after 20 years of service. It was truly his love to serve in that capacity for so many years. In addition to his contributions at Chipola College and with church choir directing, Mr. Nelson was a man of diverse talents including business, cooking, and songwriting. He owned and operated a restaurant during the early 1980s, and he was a fantastic cook with a love for preparing foods ranging from unique seafood selections to gourmet dishes. He was General Manager of a large truck stop operation after his retirement from Chipola College, and he also was a licensed realtor. Mr. Nelson was a skilled fund raiser, and his efforts were beneficial to various programs at Chipola College. Mr. Nelson had a special talent for songwriting, creating a number of copyrighted works performed by the church choir he directed at First Presbyterian Church in Marianna, and including copyrighted works he submitted to recording companies in the 1970s. Mr. Nelson also had an exceptional singing voice, performing solos in various capacities especially in his early musical career. More than anything, Mr. Nelson was a loving and wonderful husband and father, and a kind and gentle Christian man who loved God, life, and every moment with his family and friends. It can truly be said that his presence made the world a better place for all those who knew and loved him. He will be greatly missed.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to , or to First Presbyterian Church of Marianna. A memorial service was held Friday, March 7, 2014 at 11 a.m., at First Presbyterian Church in Marianna, Florida. James & Sikes Funeral Home Maddox Chapel will direct. Expressions of sympathy may be made online at
Funeral Home
James & Sikes Maddox Chapel
4278 Lafayette Street P O Box 328
Marianna, FL 32446
(850) 482-2332
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Published in Washington County News and Holmes County Times-Advertiser on Mar. 12, 2014
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