Wendell Anthon Nelson passed away peacefully on June 28, 2018, after a long illness. He was preceded in death by his parents, Anthon and Norma Nelson; his brother, Gary Nelson, and his son, Brian Nelson. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Maralyn Nelson; his son, Patrick Nelson; his granddaughter, Savannah Nelson; sister-in-law, Zoe Nelson; nephews, David and Ralph Calkins and their families; nieces, Donna Calkins, Lynne Boutwell, Diane Rodriguez, and Karen Gogocha and their families. He is also survived by his cousin, Gordon Lindstedt and his family from Nebraska.
Wendell was born in Gothenburg, NE on May 28, 1933, at the family farm. He and his family moved to New Mexico in 1946. He attended Jefferson Junior High, Albuquerque High School for one year then transferred to Highland High School where he graduated in the first graduating class of Highland High in 1951.
In 1947 he was introduced to the game of golf by his neighbor, thus beginning his life-long love of the game. Wendell was on the golf team at Highland High and was on the state championship team in 1950. He also played football for Highland when he was a sophomore.
After graduating from Highland High, he attended the University of New Mexico (UNM) under a partial scholarship for accounting which he was able to renew each year. He worked his way through college "flipping" burgers at the Lobo club house. He lettered four years with the UNM golf team under the leadership of Coaches John Dear and Dick McGuire. After graduating from UNM on a Friday in May of 1955 he left for the Army the following Monday morning.
While in the Army, he spent 18 months in Korea on the DMZ in the artillery unit, where he was responsible for calculating the trajectory for cannon fire. While in Korea he and his buddies adopted an orphanage. To help the orphaned out they requested people from their hometowns to send sweaters and socks to help the children survive the cold Korean winter. When he had completed his duty with the Army he returned to Albuquerque. He got a job with Northwest Production as an accountant while continuing his love of the game of golf. Dick McGuire contacted Wendell and encouraged him to run the city golf tournament. He served as the general chairman for at least three years. He participated in the tournament for many years after that.
Wendell met his wife, Maralyn, in May of 1957 on a blind date at the First United Methodist Church annual picnic. They got married in November of the same year.
As a member of the New Mexico Mountain Club, he became interested in the 14ers, mountains which are at least 14,000 feet high, in Colorado. He set a goal for himself to climb all the 55 mountains and reached his goal by completing his final climb by climbing the Little Bear in September 1987.
He was very active in the St. John's Methodist church from 1961 until his death. He served the church in many capacities: usher, Sunday School teacher, and liaison officer for the Boy Scouts. He also served as the coach for the local church softball league.
Continuing with his love of the outdoors, he took a group to the Grand Canyon south rim to north rim returning to the south rim, also known as Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim. That outing included his son Patrick and nephew Ralph along with Bob and Carl Nelson.
He went to work for Sandia National Laboratories in 1960 as an accountant ending his career as a budget analysist. While working at Sandia he earned an MBA from UNM. He retired in 1994 after 34 ½ years. After retiring, his greatest joy was participating in his granddaughter Savannah's upbringing and making sourdough pancakes every Saturday for her.
His vacations of choice where the fishing and hiking trips he took with family and friends. He was an avid Albuquerque Dukes fan as well as anything involving Lobo athletics and the University of Nebraska football team, GO HUSKERS. If you were looking for him you could find him working in his yard; watching a golf game on TV; walking his beloved Dachshunds, serving as keeper of the park; or keeping up with current events through the papers, magazines, and CNN. He is described by his wife as "A Great Clipper."
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the New Mexico Boys and Girls Ranch or St John’s Methodist Youth Group.
Services will be held Monday, July 23, 2018, 10:00 a.m., at St John’s United Methodist Church, 2626 Arizona St. NE, with a reception to follow. Interment will follow at the Santa Fe National Cemetery in Santa Fe, NM at 2:15 pm (1415).
There's still time to send flowers to the Memorial Service at the St. John's United Methodist Church at 10:00 AM on July 23, 2018.
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