Velner Dawson Nelson, 1938-2020, our devoted father, grandfather, uncle, and friend, passed away unexpectedly on January 7, 2020. Velner was born in Bradley Arkansas on August 10th, 1938. He was the son of sharecroppers Marvin and Queen Esther Nelson of Arkansas. He was the (5th) child of (13) sons and daughters. His family affectionately called him (Velma-D). Early in his life, the family moved to Phoenix Arizona where he attended Okemah and Julian Elementary schools. He subsequently attended Carver High School, and then transferred to South Mountain High School after Carver High closed. While in high school, Velner played football for South Mountain High. There he was a dazzling 145 lb running back. His football exploits would later inspire both of his sons to also play high school football.
In 1957, Velner enlisted in the US Navy where he became a Marine Machinist. While in the navy, his military colleagues affectionately called him (Nelly). During his tenure of service, “Nelly” frequented many of the remote destinations of the world such as; Hong Kong, the Philippines Islands and Vietnam to name a few. He actually saw combat during the Vietnam War and served in the Navy 21 years, from 1957 through 1978. One of the notable warships he served on was the famous USS Yorktown. In the late 1960s, Velner would sometimes take his son Eric A. Nelson to accompany him on the warship. (Note, the younger son Kyle C. Nelson had not yet been born). The memories of accompanying his dad while interacting with the men and moving through the complexities of a warship are some of the fondest memories Eric has of his dad. When Velner retired from the navy, he had achieved the rank of E7 (Chief). Subsequent to his military service, he continued to serve in the public sector by working as a civilian for the Department of Defense. There he specialized in contract administration for naval warship refurbishing and refitting.
On September 15th, 1962, Velner married Bonnie Jo Morrison, a Phoenix Arizona college student that would later graduate from Arizona State University. Bonnie would soon after successfully earn a Masters in School Administration from San Diego State University. Also, during the early 1960s, after the Navy transferred Velner to a base in California, the couple eventually settled in San Diego where they bought their first home in a storybook suburban neighborhood and ultimately raised two sons. Both Velner and Bonnie continuously provided a loving and safe environment to raise both of their sons.
While still in the navy, Velner courageously decided to go to college and enrolled at San Diego State University. Despite the challenges of working full time and raising a family, he successfully completed a Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Science and a earned a special certificate in Psychology; with an emphasis on Chemical Dependency from National University. These momentous achievements allowed him, while still serving in the navy, to transfer to the Miramar Navel Air Station in San Diego on special assignment.
Once Velner and his family settled in California, Velner could then devote more time to the church he loved; the Supreme Council of the House of Jacob. As his knowledge of the church and scriptures grew, so grew his work for the Lord. He became a devoted member, traveling with his family; from San Diego (CA) to Compton (CA), to attend church services. Within the church, Velner became an ordained minister in 1977. He often traveled throughout the country, faithfully serving at different missions, organizing and facilitating church activities, dedicating his time to the maintenance and upkeep of church grounds and serving in any capacity assigned to him.
Velner loved sports, particularly football, basketball, and was also fond of track and field. While his sons were in high school, despite having a busy schedule, he usually found a way to watch his sons participate in high school football games. This meant a lot to his sons. Velner’s friends, family, and loved ones are extremely proud of him and his numerous personal accomplishments.
Velner Dawson Nelson is survived by his two Sons, Eric Allen Nelson and Kyle Christopher Nelson, his Godson Hiroyuki Moritaka, his grandchildren, Dylan Nelson, Nicole and Natalie (daughters of Eric A. Nelson and Elisabeth D. Wisdom) and Kylie Peterson-Nelson, his daughter-in-law Katie Nelson, his ex-daughter-in-law Carrie M. Lambert (mother of Dylan Nelson), and his wife of 35 years Bonnie Jo Nelson. He is also survived by his brother DeLaney L. Nelson, and his sisters, Mary Crowden and Edna Johnson; sister-in-law, Dimple L. Morrison; Darlene Dryer-Taylor, Elsie Gray, and a host of family, nieces, nephews, cousins, and close friends. He will be missed for his calm demeanor, compassion, kindness, generosity, and his support in helping others.
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