David Nelson

Thursday, January 3, 2008

ORAN, Mo. -- David Allen Nelson, 41, died at his home in Oran Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2007, as a result of a very serious scuba diving accident that he suffered in October 1993.

David was born in Millington, Tenn., Jan 17, 1966, to Fred and Pat Nelson.

He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Fred Sr. and Marianne Nelson, and H.F. "Jim" and Hazel Clare, and aunts, Virginia Clare and Diane Gustafson.

He is survived by a brother, Fred Nelson III of Maryland; father, Fred Nelson Jr. of Florida; aunt, Linda Clare Maxwell, and his mother, Pat Clare Nelson and her companion, Jim Simcox, of Oran.

David lived in Cuba, Spain and Korea and spent almost 30 years of his life on the island of Guam. In Guam, he was a professional diver until his accident. David's recovery after the accident was slow, painful and never complete.

Despite his handicap, however, he finished college in a wheelchair at the University of Guam. He graduated with honors with a degree in agriculture and went to work at the university teaching seminars, writing and editing publications and working with the farmers extension programs on Guam.

He also went to some of the other islands of the area and conducted seminars on mushroom culture, and worked to develop a program to teach handicapped people special gardening techniques for container gardens.

When his failing health necessitated him coming back to Missouri to live, he worked hard at keeping his independence by driving slowly on back country roads and watching the farms and rural wildlife of Southeast Missouri. He saw and photographed the great flocks of migrating snow geese and traced the returning bald eagles for the three years that he lived here. He was also editing a book on plant pathology online.

David's life was the definition of courage. He endured a great deal of pain after his accident, but he always tried to be friendly and cheerful with the people around him. He worked hard at not giving up and letting self pity make him less of a person than he was.

For the past three years, too, he had been involved with People First of Sikeston, a local advocacy group of people with disabilities. The members of that group were real friends to him, and he treasured them and their friendship.

There will be a memorial gathering for friends and family at 2 p.m. Jan. 12 at the LeGrand farm near Oran. At a later date, David's ashes will be taken back to Guam for a memorial for his friends there, then scattered in the Pacific Ocean that he loved. For information, call 573-262-2439.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to People First, Box 966, Sikeston, Mo., 63801.