Memorial services were held on Oct. 30 at the Memorial Presbyterian Church in Cherokee. Pastor Ethan Sayler and Pastor Mary Abbott officiated. Burial was in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Cherokee, with Military Honors provided by the V.F.W. L.A. Wescott Post #2253 of Cherokee. Greenwood Funeral Home in Cherokee was in charge of funeral arrangements..
Memorials can be directed to local chapters of Pheasants Forever, V.F.W, the Memorial Presbyterian Church, and the Cherokee Library.
Thomas was born on Oct. 11, 1936 in Iowa City to Joe and Ruth Jones Nelson. He was raised in Cherokee, graduating from Wilson High School in 1955. He attended Grinnell College in Grinnell, where he met and later married Karen Poulter, his wife of fifty years. He graduated from Grinnell in 1959 with a bachelor's degree in Economics and American Studies, and in 1979 received his Masters Degree from the University of Wisconsin in Oshkosh.
Tom entered the Marines in college, and was a proud and faithful member of the United States Marine Corps. Tom farmed near Cherokee before entering a ten-year banking career, first at Merchant's National Bank in Cedar Rapids and then with Marine National Bank in Neenah, Wis. He spent a year in the brokerage business with Conway Brothers in Cedar Rapids, before becoming a partner in Miller -- Mac Insurance and Real Estate from 1974 to 2008.
He was also a financial consultant, involved in developing a construction business and was a part of Deer Valley Mechanical at the time of his death.
Tom was a long time member of Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, and the Marine Corps League. He was a Hunter Safety Instructor and enjoyed teaching youth, instilling in them a love for the outdoors and a sense of responsibility for the land and its wildlife. He was a recipient of the Frank Starr Award and supported wetland habitat, its creation and preservation.
He was a member and had served as a Trustee of Memorial Presbyterian Church. He served on the Red Cross Board and the flood committee for many years. He was a past president of Rotary Club and a member of the V. F. W.
Among Tom's hobbies were hunting, fishing, bird watching, and working his Labrador Retrievers, particularly at his cabin and pond. He enjoyed flying, was a voracious reader and had a life long appreciation of music, most recently playing the banjo with friends and family. He loved the game of cribbage. Like his father before him, Tom's trademarks were a good cigar and a talent for storytelling. Tom liked horses, dogs, and a couple of cats.
Tom was preceded in death by his parents, his brother George Heaps-Nelson, his Aunt Mary Bowman, and his Uncle Robert Jones.
Survivors include his wife, Karen, of Cherokee; a daughter, Margaret Ellen Nelson of Madison, Wis.; a son, Joseph Poulter Nelson and his wife, Marianne of Iowa City; a son, Thomas Daniel Nelson of Denver, Colo., and a daughter, Katherine Marie Sebastian and her husband David of Verona, Wis.; seven grandchildren--Adam, Michael and Elizabeth "Lu Lu" Nelson of Iowa City and Zeke, Jane, Theo and Maeve Sebastian of Verona, Wisc.; brothers , James Nelson and his wife Katie, and David Nelson and his wife Jean; a sister, Elizabeth Ann Miller; a sister-in-law, Marilyn Heaps-Nelson and her husband Ken Bull. Other survivors include an aunt, Helen Rose Reideler and her husband Robert, three nieces, five nephews and many cousins.