John Bruce Nelson entered into eternal life with our Lord on May 20, 2018, with several members of his family by his side.
John was born on Sept. 28, 1939 in Loma Linda. His parents Al and Bea Nelson came to Banning in 1928 when their oil company (Nelson Oil Company) was moved from Brawley by Shell Oil Company. John had a very happy childhood growing up in Banning with his brothers, Robert and Fred.
In high school, John was student body president, on the Honor Roll, played in the high school band, and was in the scholarship society. John was also very active in sports, playing football, tennis and basketball. In his senior year his basketball team won the first CIF crown in county history.
After John graduated from Banning High School in 1957, he went to college and then joined the family business in 1963. All three brothers worked for Nelson Oil Company, which they inherited in 1964 when their father passed away. Nelson Oil Company was sold in 1976. John stayed with the new buyer and was transferred to Los Alamitos, Calif. and then to Hilo, Hawaii, before returning back to Banning in 1983.
Later, John worked for Ford Motor Company with Bob Fahy, Allstate Insurance with Sam Enriquez, and then as a dispatcher with the Beaumont School District until his retirement in 2004.
John loved living in Banning and was very active in the community. He was a volunteer fireman with the city of Banning, a lifelong member of the Sportsman’s Club, Lions International, Rotary International and American Legion. He had a large circle of friends. He was a great whistler and swing dancer. He enjoyed playing poker, playing the spoons with his brothers and close friends, Joe Neal, Jim Witt, Gil Enriquez, Bob Fahy and Bob Lapham.
John loved the outdoors, and enjoyed playing horseshoes, golfing, hunting (particularly with his brothers and nephews) and going camping. When he retired, he and his wife Ellen would often camp for extended periods at Lake Hemet. He and Ellen also loved to go to Pismo Beach where they would relax and collect sand dollars and clams. From there, it was a short drive to visit his daughter Sonja in Santa Barbara, where they enjoyed the Summer Solstice Parade Festivities. John and Ellen also had many trips to visit his brother Robert’s family in Quartzite, Ariz. He also travelled further afield, to Rosarita, Mazatlán, Spain and Hawaii, and he and Ellen went on an Alaskan cruise.
John was a great dad to all of his kids. We have many fond memories of spending our summers at our River house in Lake Havasu, water-skiing and enjoying the river life. When John had to work during the week, he would still come out to the lake at the weekends.
We went on many family vacations, and horse-camping in Hart Bar near Big Bear. Once we went on a two-week road trip visiting National Forests throughout California and Oregon. John also took all of us on a road-trip to Mexico. He was a true family man.
John’s greatest accomplishment in his life was being the best dad and grandpa in the world. He was very proud of his family, and often bragged of the grandkids’ accomplishments.
John is preceded in death by his wife Ellen Nelson; mother Beulah (Bea) Nelson; father Alfred Nelson; brothers Robert Nelson and Fred Nelson; nephew Freddy Bruce Nelson; great-niece Rachel Garcia; and son-in-law Dino Schicke.
He is survived by his children Sonja Nelson of Santa Barbara, Dean Nelson of San Mateo, their mother Anita Dean Aars, Jami Hatfield of Banning, Vikki Timms of Lake Havasu, Benji Schicke of Banning, their mother Georgia Craig, his sons-in-law Don Hatfield and Denney Timms, his daughter-in-law Barbara Nelson, his eight grandchildren, and his nine great-grandchildren (with his youngest due to arrive in September).
Our dad will be truly missed. We love you dad. Until we meet again.
Memorial service will be held Saturday, June 2, 2018 at 2 p.m. at Banning Sportsman’s Club, 250 Mias Canyon Road, Banning, CA 92220.