(Mar. 6, 2009)
Gerald Willis (G.W.) Nelson, 80, died Friday, March 6 at his home of an apparent heart attack.
He was born Aug. 10, 1928 in Hardy, Neb., the son of Arthur and Ethel (Wilson) Nelson. G.W. attended Hardy Grade School and later graduated as the 1946 valedictorian from Wood River High School in Wood River, Neb.
He married Verna Bosselman on April 5, 1953.
While serving as an Airman First Class in the U.S. Air Force from 1950-1954, G.W. did his basic training in Texas and was stationed at Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne. He worked as an instructor in the motor pool with heavy equipment. Upon his honorable discharge, he became the proprietor of OK Tire and Rubber Service in Cheyenne for 17 years. He also worked on the California wild fires in 1988, for Greyhound Bus Lines and as a driver for Hill Trucking, Vold Trucking, Child Towing and Rodriguez Farms. He owned motels, including the Bahguana and the Covered Wagon (later renamed the Carriage House) for 34 years. He also owned various rental properties. G.W. retired from the motel business in 2006.
He was an active member of the Korean War Veterans Association, and he dedicated many hours during construction at the World War II Memorial Park.
Raising seven children included a lot of camping and picnicking, even in the snow. The early years of hunting were out of a 1964 Dodge panel wagon. G.W. would drive to where the deer were, with the whole family in the car, then he’d tell them to be quiet while he got out to sneak up on his prey. He also enjoyed spotlighting jackrabbits with his sons and his buddy, Floyd. They then sold the rabbits for 35 cents apiece to pay for gas and ammunition. In the early 1970s, he and his son, Mark, took up motorcross. In 1990, G.W. drove the food truck for the Wyoming Centennial Wagon Train that traveled from Casper to Cody.
He spent many days fishing on Sunshine and Buffalo Bill reservoirs. He was a student of computer technology and politics, and he was an avid reader. He was proud of his children.
G.W. is survived by his wife of nearly 56 years, Verna; seven children, Bernadette (Dr. Richard) Green of Casper, Mark of Jackson, Miss., Greg (Nenita) of the Philippines and Wyoming, Audrene Sims of Cody, Otis (Moni) of Fort Wayne, Ind., Roxann (Gilbert) Gaudern of Heron, Mont. and Doug (Judy) of Waupaca, Wis.; two sisters, Elnora Wienrich and Ardis (Ron) Wiess; twenty grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
He was preceded in death by his parents and a grandchild, Kaitlinn.
Visitation will be at Ballard Funeral Home from 5-7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 10. Services will be at Cody Bible Church, at 2137 Cougar Ave. in Cody at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 11, followed by interment at Riverside Cemetery with military honors.