David Rogers Nelson, Jr., "Paw Paw" to all who knew and loved him, died peacefully at his home in Beaumont on June 22, 2013, surrounded by family and friends. He was just a month shy of his ninety-third birthday.
David was born in Taylor, Texas, on July 25, 1920. He was the son of Theresa Cullen Nelson, a musician and teacher, and Major David Rogers Nelson, Sr., who had served with distinction in France under General Pershing in the First World War. The family moved to Orange, Texas, in the early 20's, when David Sr. took over management of the Lutcher Stark land and cattle interests. He was later appointed manager of the Texas Prison System before his untimely death in 1935. David Jr. spent most of his boyhood in Orange, where he fell in love with ranching and went on to become the Junior World Champion Calf Roper at the age of twelve. When his mother insisted he learn to tap dance, his father made sure he took boxing lessons too. After graduating from Orange High School in 1936, David worked as a cowboy and attended business college until September, 1941, when he joined the U.S. Marines. As a part of the Second Marine Division, he was among the first American troops to be deployed after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He fought in three major battles in the South Pacific, landing second wave at Guadalcanal and first wave at Tarawa and Saipan. He was wounded twice, the second time almost fatally, but even after two Purple Heart
s (the first pinned on him at the hospital in Hawaii by Admiral Nimitz), he wrote home telling his mother that his latest wound was "nothing serious" and that she shouldn't worry about her bachelor son. "Just pick me out some brown-eyed beauty who doesn't mind waiting for a beat-up Marine and write 'reserved' on her ticket."
That beauty turned out to be a star from the Sproule School of Dance, Alice Carroll Hunter of Beaumont, our "Kissy," the love of his life. David and Carroll were married in St. Anne Church, Beaumont, on February 8, 1946, and for sixty-seven years they were the finest dancing partners, the world's best parents, and the dearest and best of friends.
David was a member of the Rotary Club
and an active Beaumont businessman who went on to establish Dave Nelson Lumber Sales and later became president of Golden Eagle Financial Group. But he was never too busy to share a good laugh, sing a song, encourage a child, play a round of golf with his buddies, or go fishing and hunting (or dance a cool time step) with his eleven children, twenty-seven grandchildren, twenty-one great-grandchildren, and countless friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his brother Jim, his sisters Pat Phelan Milam, Jane Nelson White, and Sister Mary Davidica Nelson, O.P., and his grandson Chris Kansas.
He is survived by his wife, Carroll and their children and spouses, David III and Terri Nelson of Beaumont, Theresa and Kevin Cooney of Los Angeles, Frances and Tim Arnoult of Houston, Hunter and Betsy Nelson of Houston, Mary Pat and Marty Gross of Corpus Christi, Carroll and Jeff Patrizi of Houston, Annie and Wayne Kansas of Houston, Jane and Joe Bob Kinsel of Beaumont, James and Cindy Nelson of Beaumont, John Henry Nelson of Beaumont, and William Nelson of Dallas; and by his grandchildren and their spouses, Katherine and Scott Davis, Elizabeth Nelson, Ashley and Henry Burk, Michael Cooney, Brian Cooney, Errol and Erin Cooney, Annie Arnoult Beserra, Timothy Jr. and Kari Arnoult, Hunter Jr. and Jane Nelson, Emily Nelson, Jack Nelson, Houston Jr. and Kate Johnson, Alice Carroll H. Johnson, Mary Pat Patrizi, Frances Elliott, Martin Kansas, Nelson LeBlanc, Keith Nelson, Read Nelson, Craig and Keely Kinsel, Todd and Natalie Kinsel, Scott and Angie Kinsel, David Rogers Nelson IV, Mollie Nelson, William Nelson Jr., and Sarah Jane Nelson, and by his great-grandchildren: Austin, Andrew, and Grace Katherine Davis, Mae Elizabeth and Tessa Katherine Burk, Mick Connell, Stella Carroll, Everett, and Cullen Cooney, Colby and Frances Beserra, Addison and John Timothy Arnoult III, Julian Kansas, Caroline, Catherine, Max, Penelope, Oliver, Waylon, and Cavender Kinsel; David's sister-in-law, Mary Louise Terry of Beaumont, and a host of dearly loved nieces and nephews.
David's family also includes his Eucharistic minister, Judette Crisman, his loyal, loving caregivers: Kizzy Jones Senegal, Natalie and Tiffany Midkiff, Joje Frantz, Chris Squez, the late Lourdes Herrera, and the staff of New Century Hospice.
The dearest, bravest, funniest, and best of fathers, David had an unwavering faith and was a long-time member of St. Anne Catholic Church. "We'll all be together in the end," he always promised.
Save a place for us,
Family and friends are invited to gather at St. Anne Catholic Church, 2715 Calder Avenue, Beaumont, for a visitation at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, June 25, 2013, with a tribute to David beginning at 6:30 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, June 26, 2013, also at St. Anne Catholic Church, with Reverend Monsignor William F. Manger and David's cousin, Reverend John Stacer, S.J. officiating. Twelve of his grandsons will serve as pallbearers. Interment will follow at Magnolia Cemetery, 2291 Pine Street, under the direction of Broussard's, 2000 McFaddin Avenue, Beaumont.
Complete and updated information may be found at www.broussards1889.com