Don Ray Nelson was born December 26, 1945 in Payson, Utah to Max E Nelson and Melba Jane Madson Nelson. He passed away January 28, 2022 at his home in Genola, Utah surrounded by his wife and all of his children after a 5 week battle with acute leukemia.
Don grew up on a small 15 acre farm in Genola along with seven brothers and one sister. He learned the value of hard work early in life; he started hand milking cows when he was 8 years old. He hoed beets, bailed and bucked hay, and worked in a large garden. He passed on his disciplined work ethic to all of his children. He graduated from Payson High School and continued his education at Snow College, USU & Utah Technical College. As a young man, he served a mission to Denmark. Upon his return he attended Snow College where he met his future wife, Sharon Kay Mortensen. They were married on July 19, 1968 in the Manti temple. Just two years later he enlisted in the Army for 3 years during the Vietnam era, spending his last year in South Korea, leaving the very day he brought their tiny new born baby girl home to meet her brothers, ages 1 and 3 years old. Don received the rare privilege of being awarded two army commendation medals during his brief military career.
Upon his return to civilian life and schooling, Don discovered a passion for diesel mechanics and after receiving an Associates Degree in that field, he worked about 7 years as a diesel mechanic. Their first “real home” was located in Santaquin where they resided for almost 4 years, after which they purchased a basement home in Don’s beloved Genola. He worked diligently to complete the upstairs in about 18 months, and upon moving in, his family was sure they had arrived at the celestial kingdom! They have resided in that home for the past 45 years and loved every minute of living there. Don eventually applied for a teaching position as a diesel mechanics instructor at UVSC and taught there for 27 years. He was loved by his students and those with whom he taught. Once again, his great work ethic earned him two Teacher of the Year awards in his department over the years, receiving a standing ovation when he gave a presentation on the importance of teaching to the needs of the one at the UVU Fall Convocation with all the faculty members and administration present.
Don enjoyed spending time in the garage projecting, doing front-end alignments for family, and teaching his family members how to maintain and repair their cars. His interests and hobbies expanded to include gardening, bird watching, woodcarving, hiking, fishing, camping (including winter camping!), scouting, rock polishing, building muzzleloaders, target shooting, reloading ammo and, of course, his great love for family history and temple work. He and Sharon were privileged to serve as workers in the Provo Temple, the Nauvoo Temple and the Payson Temple. Together they served a temple mission in Nauvoo in 2014, followed by an MLS mission in their home stake. Don served in many church callings and his faith in Jesus Christ was the center of his life, which increased his desire and dedicated efforts to be a gracious and loving husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather.
Don is survived by his wife, Sharon, and their beloved children, Quinn (Sophia) Nelson, Santaquin; Zelma (wife of the late Joshua Nelson), Santaquin; Jeanice (Kelly) Woodbrey, Spanish Fork; Amy (Michael) Fielding, Spanish Fork; Matthew (Cathy) Nelson, Payson; Ben (Hannah) Nelson, Blue Grass IA; Nathan (Jessica) Nelson, Louisville KY; Adam (Kristen) Nelson, Saratoga Springs; Spencer (Tessa) Nelson, Elk Ridge; 44 grandchildren & 2 great grandchildren. He is also survived by his mother, his eight siblings and their spouses, and many nieces & nephews. He was preceded in death by his father Max, his son Joshua and his grandson Austin Wright.
Funeral services will be held Friday, February 4, 2022 at 11:00 AM at the Genola LDS Chapel, 50 N Main, Genola Utah. A viewing will be held Thursday, February 3, 2022 from 6:00-8:00 PM at the Genola LDS Chapel and again at the church on Friday from 9:00-10:30 AM prior to services. Interment will follow at the Genola Cemetery with military rites.
The family would like to express their gratitude for all of the wonderful kindness shown to them during this difficult time as well as the kind, ministering efforts given by the I Care Hospice team who served them so diligently for the last week of Don’s life.
Scroll down below the funeral service details for the link to view funeral services live stream.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Don Ray Nelson, please visit our floral store.