Ralph L. Nelson Jr. (05/29/1920 - 03/29/2011)

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NELSON, Col. Ralph L., Jr.
U.S. Army, Ret.
(Age 90)

Col. Ralph L. Nelson, Jr. (U.S. Army, Ret.) passed away March 29, 2011 in Spokane. He was born May 29, 1920 in Moline, Illinois, the son of Scandinavian parents Ralph Sr. and Nora (Gjertsen) Nelson. Ralph attended Willard Grade School, graduated from North Central High School, and completed his formal education at Washington State College, graduating in 1942. In college, Ralph majored in engineering, military architecture, and flying. He was a member of ATO fraternity, a presidential athletic honorary, and participated in swimming and track. He was a four year outstanding cadet and was commissioned in 1942 at Georgetown University. During his military career, he served in the Small Arms Division, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Camp Santa Anita, and worked in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), which later became the CIA. He was involved in counter intelligence, CIC in Northern Europe, China, Africa, India, Iceland, Iran, and in East Africa, he was in charge of rogue elephant control. As an adventurous man, Ralph traveled 12,900 miles on a motorcycle through Western Europe with his bride, Marie. He also climbed the Matterhorn and Mount Kilimanjaro before tourist routes existed. In his professional career, he was the president of Nelson Mechanical Equipment, which engineered installations of major industrials in Europe, India, Africa, Canada, and the United States. His civic interests included: benefactor of the NRA, ROA life member, an Engineers Forum member, a past president of Rotary #21, a life member of the Safari Club International, and a member of the Aircraft Owner's Pilots Association. He achieved a black belt in Kodokan in 1963 and was a member of Odin Club, O-6 Club, Spokane Rifle Club, and the project owner of Quail Run Estates in Nine Mile Falls. Ralph is survived by his son, Linus Nelson of Spokane; daughters Turi ( Mark) Resen of Spokane and Kirsti (Michael) Funston of Nine Mile Falls; sister Doris Swink of La Canada, CA; 11 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife of 42 years, Marie (Pierre) Nelson, in 1990, and by Jacqueline (McClellan) Nelson in 1996, whom he married in 1994. Visitation will be Saturday and Sunday, April 9 and 10 from 11- 4pm each day at Hennessey Smith Funeral Home. Funeral services will be Monday, April 11 at 10am and will also be conducted at the funeral home and committal with full military honors will follow at Fairmount Memorial Park, 5200 W. Wellesley, Spokane. Please visit Ralph's tribute and leave a condolence at www.hennesseyfuneralhomes.com. Arrangements have been entrusted to:


Published in Spokesman-Review from Apr. 3 to Apr. 4, 2011
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