William Lee Nelson, known as Bill, A long-time resident of Buena Vista, passed away peacefully at his home on April 30, 2021.
Bill was born to Thomas and Laura Nelson in Mancos, CO on June 06, 1934. He attended grade school in Leadville and the Maysville country school. Many of his later growing-up years were spent on ranches in the Salida area. He graduated from Salida High School in 1952.
Bill then enlisted in the Navy, serving honorably from Jan 1953 to Jan 1957. Most of that time was spent on a ship in the Pacific during the Korean War. He returned to Salida where he met and married Nancy Henderson, his wife of 63 years. They were married July 4, 1957. He worked at the Climax mine at that time. Their first child Sheryl was born in Salida. Cindie and Steve followed, being born in Grants, NM, where he worked in the uranium mine. After a short stint mining in Butte, MT, the family returned to Chaffee County to settle in Buena Vista in 1963. Bill operated a service station where Biggies is now before going to work at the Buena Vista Reformatory. He retired after 30 years from the Buena Vista Correctional Facility. He and Nancy then enjoyed retirement while continuing their involvement here in the community.
Bill was involved in the Buena Vista community. When his children were younger, he coached Little League and softball. Bill was active in service organizations and served a term as a Town Trustee. As a member of the Lions Club, he helped to bring the Health Fair to Buena Vista. He served one term as King Leo. During his years as a Lion, the Lions Club put on the Buena Vista Stampede Rodeo, which was the main summer event in Buena Vista. Many hours of work all through the year went into the preparations for the rodeo and accompanying dance and parade. Now that was a parade! When the Lions no longer did the rodeo, the American Legion took it over. That was ok as Bill was a member there and continued on. He loved the rodeo. As long as health permitted Bill was active in the Legion and served as Post Commander. He was a favorite BINGO caller. Bill didn't wait for others to do. He got his hands dirty and worked hard at whatever needed done. He and Nancy, along with many others, were involved in the construction of the Buena Vista Golf Course, this meaning they moved a lot of rocks!
Upon his retirement, Bill had more time to devote to others, but also to enjoy life. He and Nancy spent several winters at Lake Havasu with family and friends. He enjoyed boating, water skiing, golfing and camping, among other activities.
Family was important to Bill. He was a loving and devoted husband and father. "Poppy" was adored by his grandchildren and great grandchildren, and many dogs and cats he had spoiled and pampered over the years. They were family, too.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents Tom and Laura Nelson, his sister Tina Foster, brother Jack Nelson, grandson Chad Swisher, all of his aunts and uncles, and all but two cousins. He was the last surviving male of his generation in the Nelson family.
Bill is survived by his wife Nancy, daughters Sheryl (Mark) Dusenbery and Cindie (Ed) Swisher and son Steve (Cathy) Nelson, all of Buena Vista. He has nine surviving grandchildren and thirteen great grandchildren. All of us will treasure our memories. Bill was a truly decent, kind and generous man who will be missed greatly. We are fortunate to have known and loved him.
Graveside services will be Friday, May7, at 10:00 a.m. at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Buena Vista. On line condolences can be made to the family at lewisandglenn.com. Arrangements were with Lewis and Glenn Funeral Home.
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