Obituary: Gary J. Nelson

Gary J. Nelson

Gary J. Nelson passed away peacefully in his home on Friday, July 12, 2019 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Gary was born on Oct. 20, 1944 the son of Lloyd and Norma (Smithback) Nelson. He was a wonderful husband, dad, grandpa, brother, and son. He was always so proud to be a parent and grandparent.

Gary had many passions in his life. He loved hunting and fishing (both with his family and with his dogs — Prince, Callie, and Chipper in particular) and was active in Wings over Wisconsin and Ducks Unlimited. One of his favorite times of the year was helping his children prepare their craft and animal exhibits for showcasing at two local fairs (he always displayed their ribbons and trophies at his bar). He also enjoyed listening to music and watching the Green Bay Packers. His greatest passion was serving others. He was enlisted in the Army reserves for six years and assisted with the care of physically and mentally disabled men for eight years.

Gary spent nearly 30 years of his life in the bar business. He started out as the operator of Gary and Norma’s in London and then bought the Stumble Inn in Waterloo. He loved the tavern business so much that he accomplished his dream of designing and building a sports bar complex, Nelson’s Crossing, in Deansville. He loved talking to people and always had a good joke.

He was a popular student and gifted athlete in high school who was voted homecoming king in 1961 and recorded the most tackles in his football team’s conference one year.

His most memorable accomplishments include winning the “Rookie of the Year” award as an insurance agent for Rural Insurance and receiving a “Big Game Award” from a black bear hunting trip.

He always told his wife “I love you.”

Gary is survived by his wife of 43 years, Madeline of Waterloo; two children, Nicole (Charlie) Bronkhorst and Ryan (Melissa); three grandchildren, Dayton, Hailey, and Griffin; sister Ramona Strand; brother David (Connie); step-mother Betty; brothers-in-law Steven (Darlene) Coens, Bob (Julie) Coens, Joe (Jill) Coens, and David (Kay) Coens; and sister in-law Jeanette (Dennis) Berry. He is also survived by a number of nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends. He is preceded in death by his father, Lloyd, and his mother, Norma.

A friends and family gathering will take place from 1-3 p.m. on Thursday, July 18, 2019 at the Pederson-Nowatka Funeral Home in Waterloo. A celebration of life will be held at the Barrel Inn in Deansville starting at 4 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Alzheimer’s Foundation or Rainbow Hospice.

Pederson-Nowatka Funeral Homes is caring for the family. To place an online condolence please visit

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