Ron Nelson, 86

Army officer, founded insurance firm, loved sports

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Ronald T. "Ron" Nelson, 86, of River Forest, died peacefully on Dec. 17, 2017, with his wife Eileen and family by his side. The only son of Frank T. and Marie Nelson (Ostrowski), he grew up in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago, where he learned the importance of hard work, perseverance, trust, honesty and decency, lessons he practiced and lived every day of his life. At St. Leo High School, he excelled in academics and athletics, earning a scholarship to St. Norbert College where he played for the football team, earning membership in the school's hall of fame. 

After serving as an officer in the U.S. Army, training troops in mountainous Colorado, he returned to Chicago and began a long and prosperous career in the insurance business, ultimately leaving senior positions in major firms to start R.T. Nelson & Associates Ltd. 

Moving from Roseland to River Forest was a bit of a culture shock — adjusting to green grass and sports such as tennis, squash and golf. The Nelsons believed that participation in athletics was an easy method to judge somebody's character which at the end of the game was all that mattered. HHHLife was never about the score, never about material belongings or appearance of financial success. He always had a positive attitude. 

His greatest success was loving his wife Nancy of 41 years and raising a family of eight boys and three girls with strong Catholic values. After Nancy's untimely death he married Eileen Dywer, another Trinity High School graduate, and they spent the past 18 years caring for one another.

He established lifelong friendships through his memberships in various clubs in Chicago and Naples, Florida that continue today through his children.

Ron Nelson was the husband of Eileen (nee Donahue) and the late Nancy (nee Feeley); the father of Michael (Lorrie), Mary Ann (John) Lappe, Kevin, James, Christopher (Sue), Scott (Carol), Melissa Bouchard (Craig), Bryan (Elizabeth), Todd (Anne), Matthew and the late Maureen Kanara (Edward); the grandfather of Colleen Kempf (Scott), Katie Morley (Kevin), Kelly Midkiff (Matthew), Kenneth Kanara (Julie), Kristen and Keith Kanara, Lauren Lappe Wier (Matt), Emily Lappe Gammon (Ben), Brigid Lappe Stauduhar (Paul), Johnny Lappe (Fiona Scully), Meaghan Nelson, Madeline Nelson, Abbey Nelson, Ryan Nelson, Connor Nelson, Jack Nelson, Brendan Nelson, Shale Bouchard, Cambelle Bouchard, Braidy Bouchard, Ava Nelson, Molly Nelson, Carolyn Nelson and Aidan Nelson; and great-grandfather to 13. Ron also shared a special place in his heart for Eileen's children, James Jr. "Fritz" (Pamela), Julie (Charlie), John, Kevin (Marie) and grandchildren Jenny, Patrick, Sean, Matthew and Meghan. 

Visitation will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 20 from 3 to 8 p.m. at Drechsler, Brown & Williams Funeral Home, 203 S. Marion St., Oak Park. On Thursday, Dec. 21 friends and family will meet at St. Luke Church, 7600 Lake St., River Forest for Mass at 10 a.m., followed by interment at Queen of Heaven Cemetery. 

In lieu of flowers, donations to Misericordia (misericordia.org) are appreciated.

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