Robert Ambrose Nelson


(June 10, 2002)

Memorial services will be conducted Friday at 10 a.m. at Cabre Gymnasium on the Northwest College campus in Powell for Robert Ambrose Nelson, 92, who died Monday, June 10 at the Powell Hospital.

A reception will follow at the NWC John DeWitt Student Center.

Mr. Nelson, born in the back of the Powell Tribune building on Powell's main street on April 28, 1910, was the son of Severt (S.A.) and Sedona (Fesenbeck) Nelson. A lifelong resident of Powell, he was graduated from Powell High School in 1926 and from the University of Washington in 1933.

His father was the first publisher of the Powell Tribune in 1909 and founded First National Bank of Powell in 1912. R.A. Nelson followed his father into the banking business. After high school graduation, he began working at First National to earn money for college, and after his college graduation, he became cashier of the bank as the nation endured The Great Depression.

Upon his father's death in 1937, R.A. Nelson assumed the presidency of First National Bank and served in that capacity until his son, Dick Nelson, became bank president in 1974. He continued to serve as chairman of the board until the year 2000, a 74-year active association and management career with First National.

In 1937, he married Evelyn Pehl, and to this union two children were born: Dick in 1940 and Julie in 1948.

He married Elsie M. (Stylen) Olson on Dec. 28, 1967, in Casper. They made their home in Powell, spending many winters in Hawaii. They enjoyed traveling together.

Mr. Nelson was active in civic affairs in Powell. He was a charter member of the Powell Rotary Club and a Rotarian for nearly 60 years. He helped found the Powell Country Club and Golf Course in 1946 and was the first chairman of the City of Powell Planning Commission in 1964. He was also the founder and first president of the Northwest College Foundation in June of 1966 and served 33 consecutive years as foundation president until Dec. 31, 1999.

He was a member of the Powell Valley Chamber of Commerce and was named the chamber's Community Builder of the Year in 1975.

Mr. Nelson contributed substantially to economic development activities in Powell. In 1971, he donated $10,000 to the chamber of commerce and suggested the money be used to purchase land for an industrial park. That gift led to the formation of the Target Powell Valley organization and establishment of the TPV industrial park east of town. He also was an early incorporator of Powell, Inc., the private sector business development group that has helped assist many business projects.

He was a member of the Wyoming Bankers Association and served as WBA president in 1955. He was a member of BPOE Elks and in 1971 was awarded the Elks Distinguished Citizen Award.

He enjoyed golf and fishing and time spent at the family cabin in the Crandall area.

Survivors include his wife Elsie of Powell; a son, Dick Nelson, and his wife Jeanne of Powell; a daughter, Julie Sullivan, and her husband John of Canandaigua N.Y.; a stepson, Johnny Olson, and his wife Debbie of Billings, Mont.; a sister-in-law, Pauline Nelson of Cupertino, Calif.; a niece, Anna Ghandour, and her husband Ed of Santa Rosa, Calif.; and four grandsons, Ty Nelson of Cody and Andy Nelson of Powell, Johnathan Sullivan of Canandaigua, N.Y., and Jeffrey Olson of San Jose, Calif.

He was preceded in death by his parents and a brother, Richard B. Nelson.

For those who wish, the family would appreciate memorials to the Northwest College Foundation.

Cremation has taken place.