Wilford Osmond Nelson Jr.
August 21, 1921 - January 14, 2015
Wilford [Bill] Osmond Nelson Jr. was born in American Fork, Utah on August 21,1921. He was the second son of Stella and Wilford Osmond [Ossie] Nelson, Sr. Bill married Ellen [Jo Ellen]Maurice Richins on December 26,1942. They were sealed in the Mesa, Arizona LDS temple. He was a veteran of World War II and served in the European Theater. He then continued in the reserves for five more years. Bill continued his education at Utah State University and graduated with a degree in Wildlife Management.
Following his graduation he worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service for 36 years. Bill started on an antelope study in Utah’s west desert and was later promoted to the Assistant State Supervisor for Animal Damage Control in Phoenix, Arizona. Next he opened a new office in cooperation with Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. His next appointment was State Supervisor for Oklahoma and Kansas with headquarters in Oklahoma City. Bill was then promoted to Regional Supervisor in Minneapolis for the North Central Region. His next move was back to Washington D.C. This time he was the Assistant Division Chief for Wildlife Services. His last ten years were spent as the Regional Director for the Services Southwest Region with headquarters in Albuquerque, New Mexico. During this time the Endangered Species program was started and he was very involved with environmental programs, especially along the Texas coast. Job corps camps were started on wildlife refuges and the hiring of minorities received a big push.
Bill was appointed chairman of the Federal Executive Board for New Mexico in a White House ceremony on October 1,1976 by President Ford. He was a charter member of the federal government’s Senior Executive Service appointed by President Carter. Bill was proud to be an honorary life member of the Whooping Crane Conservation Association, life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, a long time member of the Wildlife Society, the American Fishery Society, The Washington Biologist D.C. Field Club, National Animal Damage Control Association, National Wildlife Refuge Association and the Rotary Club of Albuquerque.
As a member of the LDS church he served in the newly formed Sunnyslope Branch Presidency when it was first organized in north Phoenix, Arizona. Bill also served in the District Presidency for the central and western Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. He was Sunday School Superintendent both in Minneapolis, Minnesota and McLean, Virginia.
Following Bill’s retirement in 1980 he and JoEllen moved to Twin Falls to be close to their daughter and first grandsons. They enjoyed traveling in their travel trailer with their grandsons and friends exploring the Northwest. On these trips they spent time fishing, bird watching and learning the different plant species. Bill delighted in catch and release fishing using his own flies.
After JoEllen’s death in 2001, Bill had fun on many road trips and cruises with his daughters and enjoyed family reunions held in Stanley, Idaho. He continued to delight his family and friends with his stories from his early years including growing up in American Fork, Utah and meeting his brother Ray in England during WWII. He shared his interesting experiences working with animal refuges, environmentalists and Presidents. No one was ever bored when they were around Bill. He loved people and life and was always eager to share his wisdom and lore. He was blessed with being cared for by his daughter Judy in Portland the last few years of his life. He had trouble slowing down and so benefited from her help and love.
His three daughters survive him: Judy Ellen Nelson of Portland, Oregon; Jacque Ann and her husband Osburn Salisbury of Twin Falls, Idaho; and Jill Kathryn Nelson of San Louis Obispo, California. He has five grandsons and four great grandchildren: Holden and his wife Tamara Salisbury [Raetana and Hayes Salisbury]; Nelson Salisbury and his wife Sok Pok [Kayla and Preston Salisbury]; Morgan Salisbury; and Wesley and Mckinley Nelson-Agte. He has one brother Glen in Orem, Utah. Three brothers Ray, James and Robert, his wife and his parents, preceded him in death.
A graveside service will be held at the American Fork Cemetery on January 31 at 2 pm. Contributions to charities, including the Veterans of Foreign Wars, would be appreciated in lieu of flowers.
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American Fork, UT 84003
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