Walter Gerald Nelson 1930-2017
Walter Gerald Nelson, 87, of Bloomington, distinguished attorney, enthusiastic but inexpert golfer and outstanding citizen of the world, died January 6, 2017 at St. Joseph Medical Center surrounded by his family.
Walter was born January 2, 1930 in Peoria, IL, the only son of Walter and Hazel Nelson. He married Mary Ann Olberding on January 28, 1952. She preceded him in death. He married Mary Jo Sunderland on April 6, 1991 in Peoria, IL.
He is survived by his seven children: Ann (Mike) Larkin, Leland, NC; Mike (Pat) Nelson, Bloomington; Sue (Jay) Boor, Springfield, Pat (Lori) Nelson; Mackinaw, Tom (Tracey) Nelson, O’Fallon, MO; Tim (Lorraine) Nelson, Canton, MA; and Molly (Dave) Edwards, Bloomington; 19 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren as well as Mary Jo's children: Steve (Mary) Sunderland, Kevin (Tamie) Sunderland, Tom (Judy) Sunderland, Colleen (Chuck) Hubert, Maureen (Bob) Grubbs, and Teresa (George) Girardi, 19 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, wife Mary Ann, daughter-in-law Robbin Nelson, and great-granddaughter Emily Nelson.
Walter graduated from St. Bernard’s Grade School and Spalding High School in Peoria, where he participated in football, baseball, and basketball. He captained Nelson’s Nine Nasty Nosepickers to the softball league championship.
He completed his pre-law education at St. Benedict’s College in Atchison, KA and Bradley University in Peoria, where he was a cheerleader senior year. He received his Juris Doctorate from Creighton University in Omaha, NE.
While attending Creighton, he worked as a counselor at Boys Town and often spoke warmly of “his boys” and their accomplishments. He and Mary Ann married in the chapel with the Boys Town Choir performing.
During the Korean War he was commissioned as a first lieutenant JAG (Judge Advocate General) Officer, at Fort Ord, CA. Upon discharge, he returned to Peoria to raise a family and started a civilian practice with a fellow Creighton graduate.
Deciding to move from private practice, he stopped in Bloomington to check out State Farm Insurance. He spent the next 39 ½ years there, retiring in 1995 as Vice President and Counsel.
Walt was included in Who’s Who in America (49th edition), served as President of the Association of Life Insurance Counsel, as Chairman of the Legal Section of the American Council of Life Insurance and was founder and President of the National Organization of Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Association.
He was a member of St. Patrick Church of Merna, served on the Community Board of Directors for St. Joseph Hospital, was a member of the Exchange Club, Knights of Columbus, and Bloomington Country Club. Services have been held.
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