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Gerald (Gerry) Nelson

1927 - 2019

1927 - 2019

Gerald (Gerry) Nelson died on 7/11/19 with his wife of 71 years, Jan Nelson by his side.
He was born in Winlock, Washington to Holger and May Nelson on 10/1/1927, and grew up on an egg farm out in the country. Though money was scarce during the great depression, the immense vegetable garden, multiple fruit trees, a ready supply of milk, eggs and chickens kept the family well-fed. Until the end of his life, Gerry was not fond of chicken…
From an early age, Gerry was athletic and played football and baseball in high school. Their little country school team went on to win State finals in baseball, and Gerry was recruited by the San Diego Padres into the Coast League at age 17. He was a promising pitcher in an era when there were no measures to conserve one's pitching arm, and his baseball career lasted roughly 2 years. It would remain the highlight of his life and a ready source of conversation as all who knew him (and many who didn't) became aware.
Gerry LOVED to dance, and even while in high school he could be found at Woody's Nook any chance he got, jitter-bugging his heart out.
In between baseball assignments as his baseball career wound down, Gerry was working retail in a men's clothing store in Medford, OR when he met Janet McDonald. They were engaged in 3 weeks, and married in 6 months. 3 days after the wedding, Gerry was released permanently from baseball. They ended up back in Washington, and Gerry was offered a job at a local mill, or its sister mill in Eureka, CA. That brought them to Eureka, where he played with the Crabs baseball team for a few years and started his lifelong career in the lumber industry. The last 20 years he worked at the Redwood Inspection Service (RIS), ending his career at its helm. At that time there were still multiple mills in the area, and they contracted with the RIS to certify that the lumber they sold was indeed the grade it was stamped. He enjoyed giving classes for graders, and doing re-inspections that allowed him (with Jan) to see different parts of the country. He was an expert in grading all types of lumber, and hand-picked the lumber that went into their home built in the early 1960's. He was always proud that he and his Dad completed all the finish work inside the house.
Daughter Kris Nelson Dilworth (Niel) and son Jerry were born in Eureka. They both have memories of playing baseball with Dad and other neighborhood kids in the their large front yard. They also have vivid memories of the older lady next door that would "run" out and abscond with the baseball if it landed in her yard during a game. Gerry was proud of his children and was a lifelong support. Kris is a Nurse Practitioner, and Jerry (now retired) worked in Video and Game sales at the corporate level. Son-in-law Niel (an Architect) was a huge help with house and yard projects during Gerry's declining years.
Jan was the love of his life until the very end. We, his family left behind, hope he has found pristine baseball fields and that his shoulders no longer hurt; gorgeous golf courses where he can play with his buddies now also gone, and that could only mimic Baywood to be perfect; ping pong tables where he can pretend like he's giving someone a break by playing them left-handed; gardens of redwood trees with luscious ferns that he can maintain; apple trees to rival those he loved in his back yard; and a dance hall in the image of Woody's Nook where he can dance till the end of time. He was a good man.
Published in Eureka Times-Standard from July 20 to July 21, 2019
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