Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Erwin T. 'Erv' Nelsen

With his daughter by his side, Erwin T. “Erv” Nelsen passed away peacefully in his sleep at the Wisconsin Veteran’s Home on Wednesday, February 5, 2014, two days shy of his 92nd birthday. He was born in Racine, WI, on Feb. 7, 1922, to Christ Toiberg Nelsen and Esther Susan (Nelson) Nelsen.

He was married to Clara May (Legg) Nelsen on Aug. 3, 1946, in Racine, WI. He graduated from Washington Park High School, Class of 1939, where he lettered in wrestling. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee until World War II when he enlisted in the Marine Corps and saw action in the South Pacific on Bougainville and Guadalcanal before serving at various bases on the East Coast until his discharge in 1946 after the war.

When he returned from the Marine Corps, he joined his family business for a time. He liked sales and he went to Swift & Co. in the sales department. After about four years, Erv formed his own company, Nelsen Wholesale Meats, selling meats and food-related products to restaurants and small stores in Southeast Wisconsin and Northeast Illinois. This business was sold in 1958 when Erv rejoined the family business, Nelsen Moving & Storage. Erv also had an interest in Real Estate sales and went to school to obtain a Real Estate Broker’s license, forming Nelsen Realty in the '60s. The Nelsen business merged with Merchants Moving & Storage, and he held senior management positions with Merchants and later with Racine Truck & Equipment when Merchants acquired that company.

In the 1980s he returned to Real Estate sales activity, participating in sales, appraisals, leasing and property management under Erv Nelsen Real Estate. In his later years he specialized in industrial and commercial properties with Century 21 and retired from Shorewest Realty in February of 2012 as Realtor Emeritus.

Erv was active in the Tuesday Optimist Club for many years. He enjoyed singing in the church choir and was the baritone of a gospel quartet for many years. He was an active member of various local churches in his life, and was ultimately a member of Racine Christian Reformed Church.

Erv is survived by a son, Mike (Georgia) Nelsen of Hawaii; daughter, Lisa (Mark) Westplate of Racine, grandchildren, Megan (Bryan) Naylor of Maryland, Brian Nelsen of North Carolina and Amelia, Alexander, Adrianna, Adam and Aaron Westplate of Racine. He is also survived by brother, Gilbert “Gib” Nelsen; sister, Joanne (Wayne) Behrens; and sister-in-law, Bunny Nelsen; and many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Christ and Esther Nelsen; wife, Clara May “Boots” Nelsen in 2004; and three of his siblings, sisters Marilyn “Pet” (James) Daly of Racine and Gladys (Leonard) Chilquist of Milwaukee, and brother, Robert “Bob” Nelsen of Racine.

Memorial services with Full Military Honors will be held at Racine Christian Reformed Church, 900 Illinois St., on Wednesday, February 12, 2014, at 6 p.m., with Rev. Doug Aldrink officiating. A reception will follow. Visitation will be held at the church Wednesday from 4 p.m. until time of service at 6 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials to Racine Christian Reformed Church or one’s favorite charity have been suggested.

The family extends a special thank you to the staffs at Vitas Hospice, Wisconsin Veteran’s Home and Harmony of Racine for all of your loving and compassionate care.

803 Main St., Racine  (262) 634-7888

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