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Northwestern Michigan College Global Opportunities Fund
1701 East Front Street
Traverse City, MI 49686
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Life Story / Obituary


Maurice A. Nelson, 88, of Kalamazoo, died January 12, 2015 at Rose Arbor Hospice after a brief illness. Maurie was born August 23, 1926 at the Clark Hospital in Buchanan, Michigan, to William M. and Esther A. (Peterson) Nelson. In 1948 he married his high school sweetheart, Jo Anne Dalrymple, who survives. They were blessed with four children: Richard (Ali Rogan) of Newport News, Virginia; Timothy (Nancy Johnson) of Traverse City; and Pamela Nelson and Laurel Nelson, of Kalamazoo. Also surviving are grandsons Leland Nelson and Jacob and Andrew Texel, and a brother, David. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother William.

Maurie was smart and witty with an impish sense of humor, and loved a good debate, attributes that led to an interesting and full life. After graduation from Buchanan High School he was drafted into the U.S. Army, attaining the rank of Technical Sergeant while serving in Hawaii during WWII. He attended Kalamazoo College on the GI Bill, graduating with a BA in economics. His first job was selling industrial steel, followed by a long tenure at Nelson Transfer, his family’s local trucking business in Buchanan. After some years, with four kids at home and with the steadfast support of Jo Anne, he changed his career path to law, commuting to classes at the University of Notre Dame School of Law in South Bend. Graduating from N.D. in 1966, he served Berrien County as an Assistant Prosecutor for several years. After leaving public service he practiced general law in Niles for over two decades, retiring in 1996, and in 2002 he and Jo Anne moved to Kalamazoo to be near family.

Maurie’s talents were vast. Given the right tools he could fix or build just about anything; worked on cars since his teen years, including his beloved 1935 Pontiac and 1971 Land Rover; grew exquisite sweet corn on the small family farm in Buchanan; was a talented musician, playing the clarinet and saxophone into his 80’s; was an avid and early user and builder of computers; and continued to read and learn until his last days. True to his Midwest- and depression-era roots, he loved a bargain and was often heard saying, “if one’s good, two’s better”. Maurie served on the Buchanan City Commission for many years; was a charter member and past-president of the Optimist Club of Niles; a member of Rotary International; past-president of the Berrien County Bar Association and member of the Michigan State Bar Association; and served on various committees at the First United Methodist Churches in Buchanan and Kalamazoo. He was a Mason for many years and a member of the American Legion.

Family was a point of pride for Maurie and he was quick to share the most recent family photo with those he met. He and Jo Anne encouraged their four to follow their passions and stick to their principles. Their home was a hangout for many young people, and with activities ranging from basketball in the driveway to engine rebuilds in the laundry room and rock-and-roll band practices in the living room, there was rarely a dull moment. Supporting Jo Anne’s passion for horticulture, particularly growing orchids, he built two greenhouses at their home in Buchanan.

Cremation has taken place and a graveside service will be held in the spring at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Buchanan. In lieu of flowers, please consider a memorial contribution to the Northwestern Michigan College Global Opportunities Fund, 1701 East Front Street, Traverse City, MI 49686 (https://www.nmc.edu/global/index.html) or to a charity of your choice. Visit Maurie's memory page at www.lifestorynet.com to leave a story or message for the family.