Gerald D. ‘Bill’ Nelson, 101 of Richland Center, died on Wednesday, November 7, 2013 at Schmitt Woodland Hills in the loving presence of his family.

Bill was born near Viola, Wisconsin on February 17, 1912 the son of Henry and Grace (Haines) Nelson. Bill graduated from Ithaca High School in 1930 and was the final surviving classmate. He attended the Richland County Normal and worked with the CCC crew. He proudly served his country in the United States Army during 1942 until 1945. He served during WWII in the European Theater, where he earned many awards, including the Bronze Star.

Bill and Violet A. Nachreiner were married on November 23, 1942 at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Richland Center. They enjoyed nearly 71 years of marriage. They enjoyed farming and raising their family together, while he worked as a linemen for REA 36 years.

He exemplified to his family his love through the affection he showed to his wife. He set the example to his family by demonstrating work ethic, honesty, integrity and service to God.

Bill enjoyed his association with his REA work family, his military family, his church family and these past four years his care family at Schmitt Woodland Hills. He also served on the Ithaca School Board , the board of directors of the Richland Cooperative, and was a lifelong member of the VFW. Bill and Violet enjoyed attending military reunions in Chicago, Eau Claire and Duluth, MN. Bill could stay up all night if he could, talking to former fellow soldiers. His former work partners at REA were still frequent visitors and big part of his life.

They were active members of St. John’s Lutheran Church, where they attended regularly until he couldn’t drive any more. He served on committees, including the church council and an important part of building the current church in Richland Center. He enjoyed farming, playing sports when younger, hunting, watching sports and working, working, working. His wife, his family, church and watching sports were his loves.

Bill is survived by his wife of 71 years, Violet A. Nelson, Two sons: Donald (Nancy) Stoddard of Monona, Paul (Sharon) Nelson of Ithaca, One daughter: Lynette Bloom of Nickerson, MN., Eight grandsons and three granddaughters, 18 great grandsons and six great granddaughters, Two great great grandsons, Two great great granddaughters, One sister: Irene Olson of Pine Valley, Nieces and nephews and other relatives and friends.

Bill was preceded in death by his parents; his brother Charles; his sister and brother in law Gyneth (Buford) Parduhn; his brother in law Orville Olson; grandson James; and son in law Walter Bloom.

Funeral services will be held at 11:00 AM on Saturday, November 16, 2013 at ST. JOHN’S LUTHERAN CHURCH, 479 South Church Street, Richland Center. Pastor Ken Schaub and Pastor Craig Peach will officiate. Burial will be in the Richland Center Cemetery where military rites will be provided by the local veterans military memorial honors unit. Friends may call at the church on Saturday morning from 9:00 AM until service time at 11:00 AM. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials to Schmitt Woodland Hills or to St. John’s Lutheran Church.

The Pratt Funeral and Cremation Service is assisting the family with arrangements.

Online condolences may be made at prattfuneralservice.com