7/10/1957 – 12/4/2016

Gary Richard Nelson was born on July 10, 1957 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Lowell Robert Nelson and Shirley Jean (Kvanbeck) Nelson.  At 59 years young, he passed away peacefully in his sleep on December 4, 2016 in Ely, Nevada, due to complications from recent kidney issues.  Gary was the eldest of four children and spent his childhood in New Hope, MN.  The family relocated in 1972 and Gary graduated from Annandale High School, Annandale, MN in May, 1975.

As a veteran of the United States Air Force, Gary served mostly at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO and was honorably discharged in 1980.  He spent the next many years working his way through college at the University of Minnesota, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism.  Gary enjoyed several years shredding the ski slopes of Aspen and Snowmass, CO, and assisting tourists through Snowmass Village Property Management Company.  With a sharp wit and a great sense of humor, he loved to share good laughs with his family & friends, and he had a tender heart for all God’s creatures throughout his lifetime.

Gary was extremely athletic with Fast-pitch Softball the sport he excelled in most, even going on with his team to win a National Championship.  He also shared his skills, knowledge and experience by coaching women’s Slow-pitch Softball for many seasons, and officiating some games as an umpire.  Recently, Gary had been notified that he would be inducted into the National Softball Hall of Fame in 2017.

Having a love for the West, Gary spent some time in Richfield, Utah, and his last 8 years outside Ely, Nevada, nurturing animals on a large sheep ranch where Gary found a peaceful way to slow his life’s pace.  He will be greatly missed and is survived by his best friend and partner, Daniel Blackhorse Smith of Ely, NV, also Dan’s children, Lindsey M. Smith and Tyler M. Smith, who had become his family.

Gary was loved and also survived by his parents, Shirley Donaghue of Rifle, CO, and Bob & Barbara Nelson of St. Cloud, MN; his brother, Jerry Nelson of Rifle, CO; his sisters, JoAnn (Joseph) Turner of DeBeque, CO, Julie Vinkemeier of Rifle, CO, and Tara (Greg) Wenner of Foley, MN; his nieces, Jessi (Landon) Lipponen of Montrose, MN, Kristin Vinkemeier of New Ulm, MN and Carrie Vinkemeier of Silt, CO; great nephews, Charlie Wicks and William Lipponen of Montrose, MN; several aunts, uncles and cousins, as well as many good friends across the country who enriched his life.  He was preceded in death by his grandparents, his aunt, Shirley Keefe, and a dear niece, Holly Jo Vinkemeier.

Arrangements have been made by Mountain Vista Chapelin Ely, Nevada.  Private services will be held at a later date.  The family requests that memorial contributions to honor Gary be given to an animal rescue or softball organization of your choice.