In Memory

James Nelson

James Nelson

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Steve Nelson‎ to Boulder City High School (BCHS, Boulder City, NV) Alumni     1/10/2020


With the sadness of loss and the joy of remembrance, I share news of the passing of my dad, Jim Nelson, yesterday afternoon at his home in Boulder City. With love and humor, he taught generations of students at Boulder City High School and embraced the community he called home for nearly 70 years. We are setting up a memorial scholarship fund at BCHS, and I will be posting a link once it is set up. Following dad’s explicit requests, there will be no public service, and everyone is encouraged to celebrate and remember his remarkable life in their own ways.



James Conrad Nelson, a public school teacher who for 30 years devoted his life to teaching mathematics at Boulder City High School, died peacefully at his home on Thursday, January 9, 2020, at the age of 93. The cause was Parkinson's disease.

Born in Keokuk, Iowa, Mr. Nelson was a second-generation teacher. His mother, Verna, taught at a one-room school house in Nauvoo, Illinois, where he and his older brother, Joe, grew up in a house built by their grandfather. His father, Joseph, owned and operated the Nauvoo Electric Light and Power Company and was active in community affairs. After graduating from high school in 1944, Mr. Nelson enlisted in the Army Air Corps during WWII where he trained as a teletype repairman.

Following his military service, Mr. Nelson attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he earned a bachelor's degree in math and a master's degree in education. During his undergraduate studies, he was the team manager for the U. of I. Fighting Illini basketball team. In 1949 he accompanied the team to the NCAA tournament in Seattle and took his first airplane trip on a DC3 during a turbulent March storm.

In 1951 he met fellow Illini, Sabra Mills, from Mt. Morris, Illinois, whom he married the following year. The couple settled in Boulder City, Nevada, where Mr. Nelson began teaching math and coaching basketball at BCHS. They had two sons, Jim, a pediatrician in Tennessee, and Steven, a computer science engineer in the San Francisco Bay Area.

After Sabra's untimely passing from lupus in 1968, Mr. Nelson was introduced to Sally Bannon, a fellow Midwesterner from Indiana and a junior high math teacher in Las Vegas. They were married in 1969, and last year, they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

Mr. Nelson's calm and patient approach to teaching, along with his keen Midwestern sense of humor, were perfectly matched to the small town pulse of Boulder City, its high school students, his neighbors, and to those who knew him.

He is survived by his wife, Sally; his sons, Jim and wife, Donna; Steve and wife, Troi; grandchildren, Rebecca, Catherine, Caralee, and Zachary; great-grandchildren, Charlotte and Millie; and much loved extended family and friends.

Respecting his wishes, there will be no memorial service, and a private burial will follow. The family has established the James C. Nelson Memorial Scholarship at the Public Education Foundation. If you wish to make a donation to the fund, you may do so by going to Click "Other," then specify the "James C. Nelson Memorial Scholarship." No services scheduled.

Published in Boulder City Review on Jan. 16, 2020

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01/16/20 10:40 AM #1    

Jim Widner (1958)

Here are a few pics of Mr. Nelson, et al  ..  He was an inspirational teacher and so loyal to BCHS Alumni.

Note says "Edith ..  I was glad you took Advanced Algebra this year. How did you like being the only girl in class.   James Nelson

03/25/20 10:22 AM #2    

Donald Schuyler (1954)

So sorry to hear of Mr. Nelson's passing.  "Jim" was a truely gifted teacher and I enjoyed all of his math classes, algebra, trig, calculus and geometry.  He had a great way to expand our thought processes through the problems he shared with us.  A great person and fun to be around.  I was totally thrilled to see him and talk briefly with him at my 50th class reunion in 2004 at Theda Franklin Cox's house.   A cool guy! 

 He helped set the stage for my college years and eventual career in Metallurgical Engineering (UNR '58,  '62).

Don Schuyler, class of 1954

10/01/21 01:19 PM #3    

Jane Ann Ostergard (Tanksley) (1957)

So sorry to hear of Mr. Nelson's passing but so thankful I was able to visit with him at our reunion at the Railroad Pass. Every time I have to parallel park I think of Mr. Nelson trying to teach me how. I eventually learned after many patient instructions. Loved Mr. Nelson. Loved  seeing Sally too. Jane Ann Ostergard/Tanksley

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