Wayne L. Nelson, loving husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother, and friend passed away peacefully in his home surrounded by family on Saturday July 9, 2022 after a courageous battle with pulmonary fibrosis.
Born in Missoula, Montana Feb. 18, 1940, Wayne was an extraordinary self-made entrepreneur who made sure his kids inherited his strong work ethic, wisdom, integrity, love for family, and belief in almighty God. Dad always got up early and consistently spent time reading his bible.
Mom and dad grew up in East Missoula and were part of the infamous “East Missoula Brats.” When dad was 18, he enlisted in the Navy and was headed to San Diego soon. He did not want to leave his high school sweetheart behind, so he proposed to Barbara Jean White. They were married in a double wedding with mom’s sister Pat and dad’s best friend Max Galland. Soon afterwards they moved to San Diego where dad joined his Navy shipmates on the USS Pine Island. Wayne Jr. was born in San Diego while dad was at sea. After dad’s service to our country, mom and dad moved back to Missoula where Debbie, Mike, and Rhonda were born.
Upon their return to Montana, dad purchased his first Phillips 66 gas station to support his growing family. He and mom built a wonderful business and it seemed that all of Missoula traded with the Nelsons. Their success led dad to purchase a second Phillips 66 location. As the world changed, dad transitioned out of the service station business and used his God gifted skills to pursue a second successful career in the financial services industry. Finally, they owned and operated an assisted living facility in Lewistown, MT before retiring to Gilbert, AZ.
Dad worked hard and played harder. He made sure our family spent time together and traveled whether it be to Hawaii or Disneyland, trips to the mountains camping and snowmobiling, and waterskiing nearly every summer weekend. And of course, trips to the Dairy Queen and “Griz” football games.
Dad was preceded in death by his parents Burt and Mary Nelson and his sister Ada Stevens. Dad’s legacy will live on through his family including Barbara, his loving wife of nearly 64 years; his sons Wayne Jr (Kim) and Mike (Sharry), his daughters Debbie and Rhonda (Kelly); his brother John (Caryl); his sisters Joyce Shepard and Bette Jensen; grandkids Stephanie (Chase), Ryan (Jackie), Rachel (Alex), Rochelle, Michael, Abigail, Elizabeth, and Tiana; and 6 great grandchildren.
Dad touched everyone he ever met because of his genuine kindness. He was the “glue” in our family. Watch the classic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” and you will see an example of dad’s impact on his family and friends. Dad’s last bit of wisdom that he shared with family and friends is to “Take a Chance When You Can.” Live Life. Dad, you have left a huge hole in our lives and you will be forever greatly missed. We love you. Watch over us.
The Nelson Family gives a big “Shout-Out” to Jayme Henschel with Canyon Home Care & Hospice. Mom let our family know that your medical and emotional support during this tough journey was awesome. You were a blessing to us. Thank you.
Dad will have a Military Honor Service at the National Cemetery of Arizona located at 23029 N Cave Creek Rd, Phoenix, AZ at 11 AM on Sept. 16, 2022. There will also be a procession that will begin at mom and dad’s house in Gilbert. The procession will be led by the Arizona Patriot Guard Riders. Let us know if you would like to join us in the procession and we will provide you additional details. Contact us via email at email@example.com.