E. Jay Nelson – 1944 – 2016
Summing up a loved one’s life in just a few paragraphs is an incredibly difficult task and, to anyone who really knew Dad, perhaps even unnecessary. To any such people, the mere mention of Dad’s name brings back a whirlwind of memories.
Dad was an incredible and amazingly hard worker. Never one to sit still, at least for not very long, he was always physically or mentally in motion. The task was irrelevant; everything from mundane yard work to disassembling and repairing complex machinery, Dad took it all very seriously, and never did anything by half measures. It did not matter if the sun was out or if it was bitterly cold, if the job had to be done, he made certain it was done and done right. He often said that he would rather wear out than rust out.
But he didn’t just work hard. Dad always kept a sharp eye, looking for a better way to accomplish tasks more efficiently. There really is a right way and a wrong way to dig with a shovel, to install roofing shingles, to lift heavy items, to change brake shoes on a car, anything that requires doing. He taught his children all these things, many of which he learned the hard way. Sometimes we’d marvel at an elegant solution he’d come up with and ask him how he learned that, to which he’d often reply that he learned it at the “school of hard knocks”.
Dad would invent solutions to problems, some of which he put into practice and some that he’d discuss with us and mentally file away for future use. One example was when financial circumstances required that he change jobs and start over at a new shop. He pretty much kept to himself at first and observed three or four of his new co-workers struggling to manhandle a large piece of machinery in a vain attempt to hold it in position and bolt into place. Shortly thereafter he faced the same task but rather than fight it the way they had done he devised an ingenious system that adapted available machinery in the shop to lift and balance the parts so that he could simply and easily bolt them together all by himself, to the astonishment of the other mechanics. No matter where Dad worked he always ended up being the “go-to” guy for advice and assistance on virtually all the difficult tasks that came along.
Dad had little tolerance for tardiness and emphasized the importance of being on-time or, better yet, to be a little bit early. He’d “encourage” us to get our act together in this regard by reminding us in a commanding voice that if everyone else can get their you-know-what there on time then by God so can you! He was a man of his word, and if he told someone he’d be somewhere or help with something you could be assured that he would.
On occasions where he would allow himself to relax enough to pursue non-work related interests, he would thoroughly immerse himself. He recalled that as a teenager he became obsessed with the bow and arrow and would target practice until his fingers would bleed, always trying to improve his skill. He had a similar passion for fly fishing, and taught himself to tie his own amazing and very effective flies. Over the years there was metal and wood working, agriculture, hunting, photography, and archaeology, among others. He loved animals. If there was a dog or a cat in the vicinity, somehow it made it to his side.
Dad was very generous with all of his children. Since moving out on our own we have lived under roofs that he helped shingle, in rooms that he helped paint, with plumbing that he helped assemble, and driven cars that he has helped repair. He kept us sane and provided advice and sympathy when life’s circumstances would seemingly become overwhelming. He allowed us to make our own decisions and emphasized that he would support us no matter what.
Above all, Dad was deeply devoted and hopelessly in love with Mom, and she with him. There were bumps along the way, particularly in the early years, but they always worked everything out. They were equal partners in every endeavor they undertook, and taught us life’s important lessons not just with words but by example. They spent the last 54 years showing us why being with the right person is very special indeed. We will miss you terribly Dad.
Graveside services will be held Thursday, September 1, 2016 at 10:00 am at the American Fork Cemetery, 100 East 650 North American Fork Utah 84003.
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American Fork Chapel
49 East 100 North
American Fork, UT 84003
Lone Peak Chapel
6141 West 11000 North
Highland, UT 84003