Obituary for Willard Lyman Nelson | Russon Brothers Funeral Directors

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Willard Lyman Nelson

March 30, 1924 ~ April 11, 2019 (age 95)

Willard was born on March 30, 1924 in Mt. Pleasant, Utah.  Willard was the sixth child of Talula and Edgar Nelson.  Much of his youth was spent raising hay, milking cows and taking care of livestock.  He liked nearly all the sports that were available:  basketball, football, track, and baseball were some of his favorites.  Hunting and fishing trips helped him become an Eagle Scout.

In 1942, Willard graduated from North Sanpete High School and then he went to Snow College.  After a couple of quarters, he enlisted in the Army Air Force’s cadet program during World War II.  While he was waiting to train as a navigator on the B24/B29 bombers, he worked as an aircraft mechanic repairing aircraft.  After three and a half years, he was honorably discharged as a second lieutenant and returned to Snow College on the GI Bill.

At Snow College, he met Maxine Jensen.  Maxine studied elementary education at Snow and then continued her studies at BYU.  After BYU, she taught third grade in Centerfield, Utah.  Their courtship continued while Willard attended the University of Utah where he graduated as a mechanical engineer.  In 1948, Willard and Maxine were married in the Manti, Temple.

His first job was with The Crane Company assisting in the construction of the atomic energy facility at Arco, Idaho.  Later, he accepted a job as a geophysicist with Union Oil in Calgary, Canada.  Long cold winters studying the seismic records of the oil fields in Alaska convinced them to return to the warmth of their Utah families.  They packed their clothes and infant daughter into a six-cylinder Ford and drove through a blizzard to move to Utah.

Most of Willard’s professional life was dedicated to the air force supply system.  As lead engineer for the construction of the air freight terminal at Hill Air Force Base, he helped develop and modernize the supply distribution system using computer operated stacker cranes.  The system his team designed was adopted by the Air Force and received national recognition.

His strong desire to provide a new home for his family eventually turned into a small business.  When his children were young, they learned to count and hammer nails.  Later, Willard worked with them to build their own homes.  Eventually, he built 40 homes in Bountiful; 14 of those homes are in the Lakeview Ward boundaries. 

Willard held a number of church callings over the years, but his favorite calling was the twelve years that he worked in the MIA.  Waterskiing was one of his favorite ward activities.  He said that he felt like he had taught nearly every kid in the eighth ward to water ski. 

Willard’s children also benefitted from his example and friends that he developed through his church activities.  He was grateful that all of his children graduated from the University of Utah and were married in the Salt Lake Temple.  He was proud of the nine missionaries in his family that had served full time missions in Europe, Central America, Caribbean, and North America. 

After his waterskiing and snow skiing days were over, golfing and bowling with his neighborhood friends and family gave him great joy, especially when he was on the winning team.  Then when his knees and hips couldn’t golf and bowl, some of the best friend gathered around his basement pool table for more fun. 

Willard’s life was blessed with extraordinary love, friendship and good will.  We will miss his patience, kindness and support.   He believed that families that work together and play together can stay together.  Groups of Willard’s children, their spouses, grandchildren and great grandchildren have learned to play tennis and golf, as well as snow and water ski.  Near the ground that his parents homesteaded, we still enjoy summer campfires skiing and fishing at his cabin on Scofield Reservoir. 

Willard is survived by his wife Maxine; son Mark (Marcie) Nelson, daughters Holly (Gary) Keddington and Jennifer (John) Sadler; 12 grandchildren; 18 great grandchildren and sisters Charlotte Thornton and Dolma Christensen.  He was preceded in death by parents and siblings Dale Carter, Virginia Myers, Robert Nelson, Shirley Jensen, Newel Nelson and Roxey Washburn.

Funeral Services and Viewing will be held at Russon Mortuary 295 N. Main Bountiful, UT.  Viewing times will be Sunday, April 14, 6-7:30 pm and Monday, April 15, 9:45-10:45 am.  Funeral Services will begin at 11 am. 

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