Gerald Junior “J.R.” Nelson, 79, of Bluffton passed away on Monday, December 11, 2017 at Christian Care Retirement Community in Bluffton. He was born on February 17, 1938 in rural Portland to James and Mary (Faris) Nelson. He was married on November 23, 1958 at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Bryant to his high school sweetheart, Aileen J. Smith. They recently celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary.
He was a competitive four-sport athlete and 1956 graduate of Bryant High School in Jay County. He earned an associate’s degree from Indiana Tech and became supervisor of the Engineering Lab at Franklin Electric Company in Bluffton. He retired in 2003 after 46 years of dedicated service to the company.
After marrying, they settled in Bryant but later raised their children in Monroe. They moved to Bluffton in 1999 and entered Christian Care in 2016. He loved to hunt and fish with his sons and grandkids, garden, and visit with family and friends. He passionately coached in Monroe Little League and Pony League baseball for more than 30 years and even pitched batting practice curve balls to his team when he was 70 years old.
He was a lifelong New York Yankees baseball fan – his favorite player was Mickey Mantle. He loyally supported Bobby Knight and Indiana Hoosier basketball. He was a devoted husband, giving father, supportive brother, and loving son. As a proud grandfather of eight grandchildren, he regularly attended their baseball, softball, basketball, and football games, as well as volleyball, soccer, and golf matches.
He was of the Christian faith, and a former member of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Bryant. He loved God, his family, the Yankees, Franklin Electric, baseball, instructing umpires, raspberry pie, hunting, coaching youth league baseball, winning, Pepsi, Snickers – especially baseball.
He is survived by his wife of Bluffton; daughter, Julie (David) Soldner of Decatur; three sons, David (Teresa) Nelson of Metamora, Illinois; and Daniel (Laura) Nelson; and Michael (Laura) Nelson, both of Bluffton; eight grandchildren, Caleb (Allison) Soldner of McCordsville; Joshua Soldner of Parker, Colorado; Sarah (Jordan) Grandlienard of Ossian; Isaac Soldner of Fort Wayne; Alex and Audrey Nelson of Metamora, Illinois; and Amber and Autumn Nelson of Bluffton; three great-grandchildren, Claire and Gabriel Soldner; and Isobel Jackson; two step-granddaughters, Ashley (Conor) Jackson of Bluffton; and Jennifer Bennett of Fort Wayne; five sisters, Betty Missicano of Portland; Fredia Spade; and Della Brown, both of Bryant; and Florence Mosser; and Roberta Rhodes, both of Geneva; sister-in-law, Joann Nelson of Redkey; and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; three brothers, Donald, Francis, and Charles Nelson; and three sisters, Anna Sharpe; Edna Johnson; and Vivian Rickner.
Visitation will be from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 14 at Goodwin – Cale & Harnish Memorial Chapel, 3220 E. SR 124, Bluffton and one hour prior to the 10:30 a.m. funeral service on Friday, December 15 at Pleasant Dale Church of the Brethren, 4504W 300N, Decatur. Officiating will be Pastor Jay Carter. Burial will be at Pleasant Dale Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to the Monroe Youth League, Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, or other charity of the donor’s choice.
Arrangements provided by Goodwin – Cale & Harnish Memorial Chapel in Bluffton. Online condolences may be made at www.thegmcfamily.com.