John D. Nelson of Villa Grove, IL was born on October 30th of 1944 at Burnham City Hospital in Champaign, IL to Hance H. Nelson and Madonna Barham. He passed away on March 24th, 2023, in Jacksonville, FL.
John graduated from Champaign High School in 1963, then attended the University of Illinois before he was drafted as a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne and served 13 months in the Republic of Vietnam. After returning, John met the love of his life, Jane, whom he was married to for 53 years.
He was part of the first graduating class of Parkland College in 1968, and he graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 1973 with a degree in industrial technology. John was incredibly smart and worked his entire career as a mechanical engineer in areas that improved the production of steel and molten metals. After his graduation from EIU, he began working for Flo-Con Systems in Fisher, IL. He helped the company grow quickly and eventually merge with Vesuvius Crucible. Due to his insightful analysis of problems and providing solutions to enhance production, he was very well known throughout the steel industry, leading him to frequently travel and live in various places throughout his life (including Alabama, New York, and Indiana).
After retiring in 2013, he and his wife moved back home to the Champaign area to be with his daughter, Kristi, and granddaughters Shelby and Mikala Turner. John loved automobiles, especially Jaguars, and could fix about anything. He owned a warehouse where he would pass time working on cars with his friends, fixing anything anyone asked for help with, and playing with his granddaughters.
John was loved by many for his smarts, sense of humor, and kind nature. He was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers Donald Lee Nelson, Hans Christian Nelson, Ronald Ray Pellum, and Craig Allen Nelson. He is survived by his wife Jane, daughter Kristi Nelson Cler, son-in-law Edward W. Cler, and granddaughters Shelby (Jake Hogan) and Mikala Turner. He is also survived by his step-granddaughters Robyn Cler (Nathan Piwnicki), Laura (Brandon) Hauersperger, Emmaline (Michael) West, Savannah Cler, great-granddaughter Wren Hauersperger and sister Donna Ditler.
His family will be hosting an open house to celebrate his life on May 13th, 2023, from 2-5pm at the Lake House at Crystal Lake Park in Urbana. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to the Champaign Parks Foundation made in John’s name to place a memorial bench.
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