Gary “Big Lee” Nelson died peacefully at home on July 27, 2021, at the age of 83. He was surrounded by the laughter of his grandchildren and the loving presence of his family. Gary was born December 1937 to Elmer Rudolph Nelson and Mabel Kathryn Anderson of Walnut Grove, MN. Gary grew up on the farm that remains in the family to this day. He graduated Walnut Grove High School in 1953 and went on to attend University of Minnesota where he earned a degree in business. He served in the United States Army and was stationed in Fort Hood Texas. Gary practiced trust and business banking for 18 years and was Vice president at State Bank and Trust in New Ulm when he decided in 1972 to open his own business, The Insurance Group. Gary served on the board of directors at New Ulm Telecom from 1981 until he retired in 2009. He was an incredibly civic-minded man and gave his time to numerous philanthropic organizations including The United Way, AFS, and Rotary Club.
Gary was an incredible father, grandfather, husband, and friend. He was loved by everyone he met. He was funny, opinionated, sometimes too honest, and more than anything always there for his friends and family. Once you were a part of his life, no detail of your life was too small for him to remember.
Gary married June Rae Anderson, daughter of Kern and June Anderson on April 27, 1963. They had four children. June sadly passed in 2002 after a long battle with cancer. Gary was blessed to have a second chance at true love and married Mona Conway in 2004 after the tragic loss of her loving husband William “Duke” Conway. Together they built a beautiful life that honored their beloved June and Duke and created an amazing blended family.
Gary is survived by his adoring wife, Mona Marie Conway; his daughters Barbara Nicole Groves, Kristen Nelson Thibeault, Bridget Dawson, Marisa Seco Medina, his sons William “Mickey” Conway III, Peter Conway, and Jens Conway; grandchildren Stella Rae Nelson, Sage Groves, Katrina Valasquez, Cassandra Thibeault, Zander Nelson Thibeault, Zacheo Nelson Thibeault, Peter Conway, Ryan Conway, Emilie Dawson, Duke Dawson, William Conway IV, Miles Conway, Sara Conway, Ophelia Conway, Avenell Conway; sister Shirely Florine Shafer; nephew Thomas Warren Nelson, Steve Christensen, Bart Trench, and Chad Trench; nieces Kathryn Joan Hund, Laurie Jo Schafer, Lisa Ann Schafer, and Kathy Wade; and a band of lifelong friends to long to list. Gary is preceded in death by his father Elmer, mother Mabel, first wife June, children Teresa and Chad, brother Wallace, and niece Susan Leigh Schafer.
Gary’s life and memory will be honored with a memorial service on Wednesday, August 4th at Inverness Hotel, Skylight Room, Englewood, CO beginning at 5:30PM.
On August 21st, his ashes will be laid to rest at a private memorial at 3:30PM at the New Ulm Cemetery in New Ulm, MN.
Please visit www.forevermissed.com/gary-lee-Nelson/about to see his full obituary and share memories or post your favorite pictures with all Gary’s friends and family. We live forever in the memories we create.
In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to the Lenity Project in Gary’s honor.
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11824 Thomas Ave., Great Falls VA 22066