Our beloved husband, father, brother, example and hero, Ray W Nelson, passed away the afternoon of Sunday, August 15th, of age-related causes, less than two weeks after a bad fall. We are so thankful for the chance that we’ve had to gather as a family and surround him in love and service these past many days. We are especially thankful for the promise that families are eternal and that we will see him again.
Dad’s remarkable life began on June 9th, 1932 when he was born on the kitchen table of his grandmother’s tiny log cabin in Vernal, Utah… the first child of James Victor and Mary Venola Slaugh Nelson. He spent his younger years in Vernal, before his family moved to Provo and eventually Pleasant Grove, where he graduated from PGHS in 1950, lettering in football, basketball, baseball and track. Dad was always a natural athlete, full of life and adventure. He was an avid runner throughout his life, running numerous 5 and 10k races and nearly always placing in the top one or two in his age division. He enjoyed staying active throughout his life and was always up for an adventure, especially when it included his kids and grandkids.
Dad met our Mom, the love of his life, cruising Provo’s Center Street in 1956 and as they say, the rest is history. Their meeting and love story is one that seems like it could have been pulled from a movie script. They married on August 31st, 1957 and are coming up on their 64th wedding anniversary in just a couple of weeks. They were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple in November of the following year and have led a life of service and commitment to each other, their family and the gospel ever since. They were blessed with eight children, 20 grandchildren and 21 (and counting) great-grandchildren over the years.
He attended Snow College and Brigham Young University and was a lifelong, passionate BYU cougar fan. He had season tickets for BYU basketball and football for nearly 5 decades and rarely missed a game. Not only did he love cheering for the cougars, but he loved the time spent and memories made at ballgames with his family over the years.
Dad served in the United States Navy from 1951-1955 and was so proud of his service and honored to be a veteran. During his time in the Navy, he served in San Diego, Washington DC, Germany and in the French Rivieria, aboard both the USS Coral Sea and the USS Midway. He was recently able to return the USS Midway Museum, where he was welcomed and honored for his service. He was scheduled to go on the Utah Honor Flight to Washington DC in 2020. That trip was postponed, due to the pandemic and was rescheduled for this upcoming September. He still took his honor flight, it just came a little early and in a little different way.
There was nothing more important to Dad than family. He never ever missed an opportunity to tell each of us that he loved us and was proud of us and to remember who we are. Even with a family as large as ours, he had a gift of making all of us feel special. No matter how busy he always was, he never missed our sporting events, recitals, school programs or things that were important to us. We have countless memories of family vacations, travels, BYU football games, porch chats and family gatherings… and yet he still left us longing for more. He and Mom loved to travel and have been fortunate to travel the world throughout the years. Travel was truly the only thing he ever splurged on. He was known for his wise frugality, but he never regretted a dollar that was spent on travel. Mom and Dad have traveled to nearly every continent and enjoyed so many amazing experiences together, as well as with family and friends.
He spent his career working at Geneva Steel, overseeing the Open Hearth department. He was a tireless worker, a natural and respected leader and excelled at everything he did. We are so thankful for the sacrifices that he made to provide for us and for the commitment to honest hard work that was so much of who he was.
Dad was a devoted public servant his entire life. He served anywhere and everywhere he was needed. He was actively involved in various community causes, serving on the Orem Planning Commission, as GRA President, Utah Lake District Scouting Chairman, member of the Utah National Parks Council Executive Committee, as a political precinct vice-chair and state delegate, as well as coaching many of his kids’ little league and soccer teams and as a longtime, cheerful volunteer at the Scera.
One of the most defining traits about our Dad was what a faithful, dedicated and devoted disciple of Jesus Christ he was, serving anywhere he was ever asked. He served in many callings over the years, including as a Bishop three times, a member of the Stake Presidency, Ward Mission Leader and many other wonderful callings. He loved the opportunity to serve a senior mission with our Mom and was thrilled to be called to serve in the Manila Philippines Temple. After 2 years of serving as full-time temple missionaries, they were called as President and Matron of the Manila Temple, one of the greatest honors of their lives. They spent over 5 years serving in the Philippines and cherished the time they had dedicated to temple service and the wonderful Filipino people. As a sealer, Dad has had the opportunity to seal many of his children and grandchildren to their spouses, which was a wonderful blessing for all of us. He loved the temple and attended regularly right up until they closed in March of 2020, due to Covid. He was consistently an example of faithfulness and striving to do the right thing in every situation. We are so thankful for the legacy that he has left us.
We are acutely aware of the hole that his absence will be in our lives, but we are so happy that he is free from pain and overjoyed imagining the reunions that he is having. He was most looking forward to seeing his beautiful, healthy mother, who passed away when he was just a teenager after a 5 year battle with ALS. We know there were many other beloved family members and dear friends that were there to greet him as well.
He leaves behind his devoted bride of nearly 64 years, Kleah and eight children/spouses; Mike Nelson, Duane (Tami) Nelson, Greg (Barbara) Nelson, Sharon (Greg) Price, Joni Nelson, Chris (Meilissa) Nelson, Robb Nelson and Kim (Chris) Johnson. He also leaves 20 beloved grandchildren/spouses; Cody (Jeniffer), Cassidy, Courtney, Tyler (Alyse), Amy (Kevin), Colby (Rashell), Logan (Caitlin), Crystal (Clint), Alex (M’kenna), Megan, Briana (Cody), Tasha, Cayden (Hanes), Jeremy (Katie), Madison (Skylar), Jaxson, Trey, Leah, Charley and Mary, He is also survived by a growing number of great-grandchildren who loved and adored him. Dad has two younger brothers that he loved and was close with that survive him, Max and Ron (Sue) as well as many other extended family members and dear friends. He was preceded in death by his parents, two younger brothers, Lynn and Jim, a younger sister Barbara and a great-granddaughter Kadence Rose.
We extend our deep gratitude to the compassionate caregivers that he has had during this time and for the outpouring of love and concern from so many who love our parents.
Funeral Services will be held on Saturday, August 21st at 11 am in the Orem Park 7th Ward Chapel, 114 South 400 West, Orem. There will be viewing/visitations held on Friday evening from 6-8 pm at Sundberg Olpin Mortuary, 495 South State Street, Orem, and also Saturday morning prior to the funeral from 9:30-10:30 am. Burial will take place immediately following at the Orem City Cemetery, where he will receive full military honors.
We request that those wishing to join us to honor this amazing man, follow all the guidance and recommendations of health organizations and church leaders in an effort to keep everyone safe, including the wearing of masks.
For those unable to attend the services, you may view the Service HERE
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