Donald Ray Nelson

July 2, 1931 - August 20, 2017


  Donald Ray Nelson, 86, of Ellettsville, passed away peacefully on Sunday, August 20, 2017 at IU Health Hospice House in Bloomington.  Don was born July 2, 1931 in Chesterton, Indiana.  He was the son of Ernest L. Nelson and Jessie M. (Kline) Nelson.  Donald graduated from Chesterton High School in 1950, and in 1956 he graduated from Olivet Nazarene College (now known as Olivet Nazarene University) with a Bachelor of Theology degree.

Donald was a minister of Chesterton Church of the Nazarene from the mid-1950s until the mid-1960s.  At the same time, he was a full-time employee at US Steel in Gary, Indiana.

In 1973, Donald was hospitalized with a life threatening condition.  By the grace of God he survived.  However, his life expectancy at that time was five years or less.  He was advised to move to the Southwest for his health.  So, in 1974, Donald moved to Tucson, Arizona with his best friend James Rees.  They lived in Tucson for over 40 years.  About two years ago, they moved back to Indiana, settling in Ellettsville.

Donald is survived by James Rees, his caregiver and best friend, and many nieces and nephews.

Donald was preceded in death by his parents; brothers Gerald Nelson of Chesterton, IN and Earl Nelson of Marion, IN; and a sister Deldora (Nelson) Davis of Bloomfield, NM.

A Celebration of Life Service will be held on Saturday, September 9, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. at Zion Community Church of the Nazarene in Bloomington (near Ellettsville).

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Donald’s memory to IU Health Hospice House in Bloomington or to Zion Community Church of the Nazarene.

Send Condolence

    Although I never knew Donald, my family has been attending Chesterton First Church of the Nazarene (Now Duneland Community Church) since the early 60s, when I showed my grandmother his obituary, she went on for nearly an hour about how great of a minister he was and how sorry she was to hear the news. I also spoke to our current pastors about it and we all would like to say that although the church has changed radically throughout the decades, that the ministers that were part of the early church must of had a heart of gold and unbelievable faith, the struggles are church went through are tough now, but it's hard imagining the struggles they went through with only a 25 member congregation. Last september we celebrated our 70th anniversary as a church and Donald was spoken about, unfortunately all of the members but one from his era no longer attend, so we were only able to get a small understanding of the impact he had on the church (also he was one of the two pastors that had been at Chesterton for more than 5 years) Thank you Donald, your legacy lives on here in Chesterton, and will for many decades to come!

    Jake Weitzel