Celebration of Life & Obituary
William Franklin Nelson, age 89 of Mankato died Monday, December 31, 2018 at Birchwood Cottages in North Mankato.
Memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, January 5, 2019 at the Frist Presbyterian Church Mankato. Visitation will be held from 4 – 7 p.m., Friday at Mankato Mortuary and one hour before the service at the church on Saturday. Burial in Glenwood Cemetery.
Graduated from Mankato High School in 1947 and Illinois College of Optometry in 1950. He served in the army at Fort Breckenridge and Fort Belvoir from 1951-1953. He practiced optometry in Mankato from 1954 until his retirement in 2006 at the age of 77. He married Mary Evelyn Denison April 22, 1961.
He was active in many community organizations. He volunteered with the Red Cross and Salvation Army. He was president of the Y’s Men’s Club, Lion’s Club, and provided leadership in the Mankato Masonic Lodge and Scottish Rite. He led 13 trips to Guatemala and Mexico for Volunteer Optometric Service to Humanity to perform eye exams and distribute donated eyeglasses. He was honored with the Melvin Jones Award and the Jefferson Award. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church serving as a Sunday School teacher, deacon, and trustee.
In his teenage years he worked at the old Mankato Airport in exchange for flying lessons and received a pilot’s license while still in high school. Bill enjoyed boating, especially an old inboard named the Queen Mary, which he restored and enjoyed for many years. He had a passion for classic British sports cars. He was a founding member of the Basso Presto Sports Car Club and restored several cars including an MG and a Lotus. He owned a 1947 Bentley which he loved to drive for weddings and special trips to the DQ on Highway 169. He had a special bond with dogs throughout his life. Other interests included vintage aircraft, camping throughout the United States with his family, gardening, and spending time at his cottage on Lake Washington.
He is survived by his wife Mary; two children, Kathryn (Steve) Gruenwald of Northfield, Bill (Janet) Nelson of Mankato; six grandchildren, Harrison, Anna, William, Ted, Ben and Evelyn; nieces nephews and cousins.
Preceded in death by his parents.
In lieu of flowers, donations to Salvation Army or Donor’s Choice.