Joel Nelson
Joel Nelson

Obituary of Joel Kay Nelson

Joel Kay Nelson passed away August 31, 2023 with his wife Maurine at his side. Joel was born to Charles Austin Nelson and Leola Christensen Nelson on December 29, 1929 in Salt Lake City Utah. He was 93 years old at the time of his passing.

Joel was the first of Charles Austin and Leola’s four children, followed by sisters Donna Rae, Dian, and Juanita. They spent their early years in Brigham City, Utah.

At age seven years old, the family moved to Los Angles, CA so his father could find steady work during the depression. Happy times were spent at Redondo Beach. When World War II began Joel had several childhood jobs and delivered the early morning newspaper to 110 households, while his mother worked as a riveter on aircraft, and his father was overseas as a civilian contractor working at Midway Island. Surviving the attacks on the island, his father Charles returned and worked at the naval shipyards during the war until the entire family moved back to Tremonton Utah in the spring of 1944.

Joel excelled in high school and participated in football, track, debate, choir, and school plays. Graduating from Bear River High School in May of 1948, he started school at the University of Utah originally in Pre Med, until finances and the Korean War interrupted. He joined the Army in August 1950 as a medical technician. After basic training in California, he came home on a short 10-day whirlwind leave and married his high school sweetheart, Maurine Packer - shipping out just five days later for further training.

With college previously interrupted by the war, he returned from the Army to the University of Utah in the fall of 1953 and changed his major to electrical engineering. As a senior graduating from Utah State University in Electrical Engineering, Joel interviewed with over 50 companies and chose Boeing, working in their Pilotless Aircraft program leading efforts and development of analog and digital computers, and solid-state transistors. So, their young family packed up and moved to Seattle in June of 1956.

At Boeing the first part of Joel’s career was devoted to developing advanced guidance and sensor systems and technology for missile systems. He then chose to go into management where he was responsible for the conceptual design and development of advanced new missile systems - serving as both Chief Engineer and Program Manager. In addition to his regular duties, he had the opportunity of recruiting new engineers at Utah State, University of Utah, and BYU, hiring many excellent engineers for the company. He started his career using a slide rule with 3 digit accuracy, and ended his engineering assignments using high end modern computers.

As a father with young children, Joel was called to serve in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a Deacon Quorum advisor, and on the Stake Aaronic Priesthood Committee, teaching and mentoring the Young Men. He then served a Stake Mission (1960-1962), and as a Bishopric Counselor (1960 – 1968), and on the High Council on the Aaronic Priesthood Committee hosting many Youth dances for over 9 years. Seeing that the Explorer aged Boy Scouts had no leader, Joel volunteered, mentoring and taking them on adventures.

As a member of the Seattle Stake presidency Joel’s assignments included Missionary work, Temple, Genealogy, Leader training, Ensign Ranch, Sunday School and church buildings. Joel served as Bishop for the Seattle 14th ward for 8 years (1986-1994). He felt each member was a “part of his family . . . as he laughed, cried, rejoiced, suffered, blessed, and prayed with them.” He truly learned to love each and every one of them and deeply felt Heavenly Father’s love for them.

For over 30 years Joel had multiple roles in the Boy Scouts of America as a scout leader, representative, District Chairman, and Council Executive Board supporting the Chief Seattle Council. Joel co-chaired many multiregional activities and encampments. He received both an award of Merit and the Silver Beaver Award – the highest honor a local Scouting Council can bestow upon volunteer leaders.

In 1995 preparing to sell their home and serve a church mission along with his wife, Maurine, he instead received a prompting to stay in the Seattle area. About a month later he was called for a second time as a counselor in the Seattle Stake Presidency. In his later years he served as the Regional Director and Trainer for Family History across the Pacific Northwest, B.C. & Alaska.

Among all the career, church and volunteer assignments, Joel found time for family fun and activities –Camping, travel, fishing, water skiing, scuba diving, playing in the pool, electrical projects, carpentry and eventually even tying quilts for the grandchildren with Maurine.

Joel and Maurine had six sons, Jeffrey (Muriel), David (Sue), Brent (Sandy), Gary (Krista), Bruce and Bradley (Laurie, Amy). Followed by a generation of sixteen grandchildren, and then thirteen great grandchildren.

Joel was preceded in death by his parents Charles and Leola, by his sister Donna Rae, by his sons David and Bruce, and grandson Joel Craig Nelson.

His effervescent smile, good nature and generosity will be missed. Joel’s commitment to following the Savior, serving others and loving his family - will go on through eternity.

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