Raymond R. Nelson
December 26, 1919 – May 20, 2015
Born in Chicago, Raymond was a teen during the great depression. Although he grew up on the streets in an unstructured life he found time to read every book he could lay his hands on, particularly adventure stories.
But except for brief excursions he never traveled outside his home city until the Army tapped him at his factory job in 1942.
After ten weeks of basic training he was on the Ile de France, a troop ship that took him to the China Burma India Theatre. Three years later he was back in Chicago and the war was over.
A young man of 25, he realized that the Army had given him a trip around the world, by sea and air. Wanderlust stirred. He soon quit his job as a newspaper reporter and drove to California in 1948. Four monthes later he took a “one-year job” on the Japanese Pacific island of Okinawa. That stay lasted 18 years.
He married Taeko Yamashiro in 1953 at Naha, Okinawa and fathered two children.
Returning to the U.S. with his family in 1966 he bought a home in Virginia and worked at the Pentagon. His wife died at the end of 1976.
He retired, sold his home and moved to Sequim, Washington where he built a home on land his late wife had purchased for their retirement.
He became a member of the Lions Club, Elks and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
On May 28, 1982 he married Esther Freda Larson, daughter of Nick Heuhslein, an area pioneer, and they lived together in his Sequim home until the time of his death. The did much traveling over seas and enjoyed ballroom dancing.
During his life he was a Factory Worker, Laborer, Salesman, Machine Gunner, Acting First Sergeant, Newspaper Reporter, Engineering Supply Accountant, Army G4 Logistician, Supply Specialist for Counterinsurgency Supplies in Vietnam and until retirement a Performance Analyst at the Pentagon for logistics of repair parts.
After retiring he wrote a weekly newspaper column for the Peninsula Daily News from 1990 to 1995.
Mr. Nelson loved to interact with children and in 1985 became a tutor of reading and comprehension at Helen Haller Elementary School.
Always fascinated by the power of the written word, he wrote and published two books, “I Never Met One Stranger” in which he relived his life, and “Sleeper”, a collection of selected newspaper columns.
As a young man he sought adventure and found it in combat during World War II at Myitkyina, Burma and later, living on a tropical island.
He made several trips to Vietnam in 1965 as a supply officer whose mission supported overt and covert American forces.
Besides his wife Esther, he is survived by his son Norm of Pasco, Washington and his daughter and son- in-law Miya and Kyle Johnson of Burke , Virginia. There are four grandchildren, Alyssa and Gregory Johnson of Virginia and Jessie and Lexie Nelson of Kennewick, Washington, as well as several nieces and their families. He is also survived by Esther’s children Nick (Sandy) Larson of Port Angeles, Washington and Vickie Crane of Lynden, as well as Esther’s grandchildren, great-grandchildren and one great- great-grandson.
During his time as a columnist he was philosophically fond of the sentiment in a 1993 piece entitled: “Life is a Novel Experience.” Among other things it said: Living ones’s life is like reading a novel with one major exception. You can’t flip to t he end to see how it comes out. You will just get as far as “today.” Only when your life is over will the novel finally end.
Memorial services may be held at a later date. Memorial contributions can be given to Callam County Volunteer Hospice, 540 E. 8th St., Port Angeles, WA 98362 or a charity of your choice.