Ronald W. Nelson, born on Sept 4, 1946 in Hoopa to the late Mildred D. Nelson and the late George Byron Nelson Sr., passed away at the age of 71 on May 6, 2018 in Kneeland. Ron was raised in Hoopa and graduated from Hoopa High School in 1964. He received many sports awards, including All County in every sport at the time. He was most proud of playing in the first All Indian Basketball Tournament and recently gave his uniform to the Tribe.

He and I often commented on the wonderful childhood days he enjoyed growing up on the reservation. He loved working side by side with his Dad on the family property from about the age of 7 — hard labor which developed a strong work ethic that followed him all his life. The days were also filled with swimming, fishing, camping, horseback riding, hunting etc. From about age 12 and beyond, Ron was allowed to take the horse and a rifle and leave the campsite and wander the hills. Little did anyone know at the time that those days of watching his father navigate back to camp along with his own developing sense of direction when he was alone would ultimately serve him well in Vietnam. He was frequently able to bring his unit back a different route through the jungle that lead them safely back to the others.

Surviving Vietnam left many scars: malaria, broken ankle, back injuries, PTSD and resulting physical and emotional complications. He remained proud of the 5th Battalion, 7th Air Cavalry as they repeatedly faced incredibly heavy combat. He received an air medal because he was involved in so many air assaults … a recognition rarely ever given to a combat soldier. Ron became a Lifetime member of DAV —  Disabled American Veterans — many years ago.

Ron started working for PG&E shortly after high school, where he found his lifetime career. At a young age, he grabbed the opportunity to become a T&D Troubleman. Usually first on the scene, he was known as “The Kid”! He was recognized all over town … people would always call him by name and remind him of the time he got the power restored just before some major event, like cooking the turkey for Thanksgiving! This man put in hours and hours of overtime 1. For his family and 2. Because the work had to be done. After hours (days) of working in the snow he would come home to be met by 3 little ones begging him to play in the snow — which, of course, he would do!

Shortly after we moved to Kneeland in the early 70s, Ron was approached to become a member of the Kneeland School Board, a job that he took on for about 13 years. He used to say: darned if you do and darned if you don’t … but he and the other members always made it work!

He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Dottie Nelson; his children: Marlaina (James) Steil and their daughter, Mallory; Monica (Daniel) Witte and children Heidi and Brody; and son, Andrew Nelson.

He also leaves behind a sister, Marilyn Nelson, and two brothers, George Byron Nelson Jr. and Gary Nelson from Hoopa, as well as numerous extended family members.

Friends and family can pay their respects at the Celebration of Life with Military Honor Guard on Saturday, June 2 at 2 p.m. Moose Lodge, 4328 Campton Rd., Eureka, Ca. 95503. It is our hope that we can all enjoy a lighthearted gathering with many fun stories and memories. You are all aware, I’m sure, that Ron has MANY stories about each of you … yes, many would be embellished a tad! His crazy wit and sense of humor will live on forever! We miss him to the moon and back. Family was everything to him.



The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Ron Nelson’s family. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.