Merrill William Nelson, 87, an Otsego County native who rose to deputy regional administrator in the Federal Highway Administration, died Sept. 1, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. His ashes were interred Monday, Sept. 25, in Hartwick Seminary Cemetery.
Merrill was born on Feb. 26, 1930, in Oneonta, to Alice Christine Simonsen, age 19, and William Peter Nelson, age 24. He was baptized Easter Sunday April 20, 1930, by his grandfather, the Rev. N.P. Simonsen in St Matthew’s Lutheran Church, Laurens. His uncle Anton Nelson was named his godfather.
He attended school in Cooperstown, where he played baseball, basketball and football for CCS.
Merrill was inducted on Feb 7, 1951, to INF-USAR Ready Reserve (active status), stationed in Alaska during the Korean War. He was a paratrooper assigned to the Headquarters Company 503d Airborne Regimental Combat Team, 11th Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, Ky.
While in Alaska; he participated in operation Warm Wind an Army-Air Force Joint exercise staged to check Alaskan Defenses. On Feb 7, 1953, he was transferred to the Army Reserves. On Oct. 19, 1956, he was honorably discharged.
In 1956, he attended the University of Michigan, obtaining a degree in civil engineering.
On May 2, 1959, he married Elizabeth Marian Hanor at the First Presbyterian Church, Cooperstown. He was a loving husband and father.
Merrill worked for the Federal Highway Administration, which moved him and his family around the country. And they even spent a few years in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
He and his wife moved to Texas in 1983 where they lived until he retired. At the time of his retirement, he was the deputy regional administrator for the Federal Highway Administration.
He was a member of Advent Lutheran Church in Arlington.
After retirement, he and his wife traveled the world extensively for 10 years. Some of the trips were on commercial freighter lines that enabled them to visit and explore some unique places around the world.
After his passing at Arlington Memorial Hospital, staff participated in a Final Salute ceremony, lining the hospital lobby to salute, pay their respects, and thank him for his military service as his flag-draped casket was escorted through the hospital to the waiting vehicle. The flag was folded and presented to his spouse.
In addition to his wife, Elizabeth Marian Hanor Nelson, survivors include son Dorman Arthur Nelson of Lebanon, Neb., daughter Kathrine Louise Nelson Crawford of Elon, N.C., son Stephen Douglas Nelson of Houston, and daughter Deborah Elizabeth Nelson of Cedar Hill, Texas; grandchildren Toby Nelson Darby, Erin Nelson Young, Cody Crawford, Carrie Nelson Mitchell; great-grandchildren Izaya Hamilton, Sophie Young, William Mitchell; his sister Arline Nelson Hanes of Arizona, and numerous cousins.
He will be deeply missed by all who knew him and loved him.
Contributions may be made to Advent Lutheran Church, 3232 Cooper St., Arlington, TX 76015