Ronald Nelson

Obituary of Ronald Eugene Nelson

Ronald Eugene “Ron” Nelson, 79, of Francesville, IN (formerly of Portland, OR) passed away at 3:38 AM Saturday, October 3, 2020 following surgery at LaPorte Hospital in LaPorte, IN.  He was born on February 24, 1941 in Emmetsburg, IA, the youngest of three boys.  In their youth, Ron and his older brother, Bill, learned to play the accordion.  They won many contests throughout northern Iowa and shared the stage with Myron Florin and Lawrence Welk at the Clearwater Lake Ballroom in Iowa.  

In 1959, Ron graduated from Mason City High School in Mason City, IA.  That summer, he traveled the Midwest with the carnival.  Upon returning home, Ron joined the US Air Force.  After completing basic training and tech school for Doppler radar, he was assigned to a base in Oklahoma City, OK.  Ron was honorably discharged in 1963, just days before the start of the Vietnam War.  

Ron returned to Iowa after the service and explored many jobs from working in the Land O Lakes Creamery to truck driving.  He eventually ended up in San Francisco, CA when he landed a job with Western Union as an installer.  After working throughout the western United States, he settled in Portland.  Ron was the CEO and co-founder of Parents Anonymous Northwest, a self-help group for the prevention of child abuse.  On November 22, 1974, Ron married Karen May Smith in Portland and they had two children.   By 1986, Ron discovered his talent for home renovation and became a general contractor and licensed real estate agent.  He remodeled hundreds of homes for HUD and the Department of Oregon Veterans during the 1980’s recession.  Ron retired from construction in 1994.

From 1995-1997, Ron served as a Graphics Rep at US West Direct alongside his wife, Karen.  For a hobby, they bought a square dancing clothing store in 1995 and operated it together until 2007.  After retiring again, Ron and Karen moved to a 55 plus community in Portland.   But after having too much fun, they became lonely for their family and so, in 2017 they moved to Francesville to be near their son and grandkids.

Ron was a loving husband, dad, and grandpa who will be dearly missed. 




He is survived by:

Karen May [Smith] Nelson, Francesville, IN Wife

Joseph (Amanda) Nelson, Son

Ronald Nelson, Son

Camerin (Anna) Nelson, Francesville, IN Son

Kendra (Kurt) Dresner, Kirkland, WA Daughter

5 Grandchildren: Isaac, Zoe, Jazmine, Keziah, and Kasimir

Several Nieces and Nephews


Preceded in death by:

Sophus and Margaret [Doty] Nelson, Parents

Carol [Pittman] Nelson, Former Spouse

William “Bill” Nelson, Brother

1 Infant Brother


No services will be held.


Online Tributes may be offered at


Cremation Arrangements have been entrusted to Frain Mortuary Querry-Ulbricht Chapel in Francesville, IN.

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