Robert James Nelson, Jr., was born in Charlotte, Michigan to Robert James Nelson and Eleanor Addie Wilkins on March 7, 1938. He passed away on August 4, 2021, in Abilene, Texas with his wife of 58 years at his bedside.
Memorial Mass will be held 9:30 a.m., Thursday, August 12, 2021, at Holy Family Catholic Church. Inurnment will follow at the Texas State Veterans Cemetery at Abilene. Services are under the direction of The Hamil Family Funeral Home, 6449 Buffalo Gap Road.
He was the Valedictorian for the 1956 graduating class at Walton Township Unit High School in Olivet, Michigan. He continued his education at Michigan State University where he earned a B.S. in electrical engineering. He was in MSU's ROTC program which led him to join the Air Force and go on to become a pilot.
While going through pilot training, Class 63E at Laredo AFB, Texas, he met Maria Evangeline "Angie" Juarez. Prior to their marriage, he gifted her with a bracelet which would be filled with charms from the places they lived and visited during their career in the Air Force.
Lisa Ann joined the family while stationed at Travis AFB in the 86th Transport Squadron (MATS) flying the C-130. James Brian was born while stationed at Prestwick Air Base, Scotland in the 67th Air Recovery Squadron (MATS) flying the HC-54 and the HC130H. They moved with the 67th Air Rescue and Recovery Squadron (MAC) to Moron Air Base in Spain. Angie and the children returned to Laredo when he was assigned to the 39th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Sq. (MAC) flying the HC-130P in Tuy Hoa Air Base in Vietnam (RVN) for a year. After his RVN tour they moved as a family to Hamilton AFB, California. There he flew the HC-130H in the 41st Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Sq. Bob's next assignment was to Hickam AFB in Hawaii (MAC) where he served as the WG Flying Safety Officer.
Once more back in California, he was assigned to McClellan AFB and the PNL Sacramento ALC as a Flight Manual Manager. His final overseas assignment was to Ramstein AB, Germany and USAFE Headquarters Squadron Section where among his duties he supervised the USAFE Current Operations Briefing team. He retired at Dyess AFB assigned to the 774TAS (MAC) on April 30, 1989, as a Lt. Col.
Among the medals he received were the Meritorious Service Medal with two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Device and one Bronze Star Device, and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.
He was a member of the Abilene Cactus Lions Club and served as President 1990-1991. He served for several years in the Information Technology area. In 2001 he was presented the International President's Award on behalf of International President Dr. Jean Behar for his work on the district's webpages and newsletter.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents and brother-in-law Carroll Coplin.
Bob is survived by his wife, Angie, and his children, Lisa Porter and James B. Nelson, residents of Dallas, Texas. He has one sister, Doris Nelson Coplin who lives in Arizona. He has two grandchildren, Brandon A. Cook and wife Libby of Dallas and Madeleine Cook Robertson and husband Dakota of Jonesboro, Arkansas. He also has several nieces, nephews, and brothers-in-law.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the St. Jude's Children Hospital or the donor's favorite charity.
Memories may be shared and condolences left at: www.HamilFamilyFuneralHome.com
The family first began in the funeral business in 1933. The Hamil's legacy, beginning with the Elliott's to John and Jo Ann Hamil and now continuing with Robert and Karla Hamil, is to serve families in their time of need.