Roderick Perry Nelson, 90, passed away March 16, 2020 at his home in Sterling, VA surrounded by his loving family following declining health in the last few years.
Born June 17, 1929 in Gallitzin, Pa, the son of the late Oliver and Gladys (Troxell) Nelson, he primarily resided in Fairfax and Sterling, VA during his adult life. Preceded in death by a sister Nancy Hawkins.
He leaves his wife of 65 years, JoAnn (Anslinger) Nelson, whom he married Nov. 6, 1954; his son, Timothy Nelson and his wife Cathy Shepherd; his daughter, Tamara Brennan (Jack); his son, Michael Nelson and his wife Kimberly (Brockman); and his grandchildren, Emily (Nelson) Dieter, Garrett Brennan, Collin Brennan, Sean Nelson and Lauren Nelson, his great grandchild Nicholas Dieter and his nieces Holly Hawkins and Jill (Hawkins) Hisey who he raised after his sister (their Mother) died of cancer
After graduating from Altoona Catholic High School in 1947, Mr. Nelson attended St. Francis College in Loretto, PA. until the death of his Father in December 1948. He then had to leave school in order to take over running the family hardware business, Nelson's Hardware, in Gallitzin. He did not return to St. Francis until many years later when he finally earned a degree in Economics with honors at St. Francis College in 1973. This took place when the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) sent him back to school to finish his degree and continue his ascent up the agency ladder. He met his wife while at a dance at the Oriental Ballroom and they were married in 1954 at St. Patrick’s Church in Gallitzin, PA. JoAnn says it was the best choice she ever made.
Mr. Nelson and family moved to Northern VA in 1960 where he worked for Freeze, Beale and Sharp as an accountant. In 1965, Mr. Nelson joined the CIA where he would remain for the next 27 years working in finance. During his tenure there, Mr. Nelson lived overseas in Okinawa, Japan (1967-1970) and Paris, France (1977-1979).
Mr. Nelson was an accomplished pianist who played in a small band in Pennsylvania, served as the organist at the Catholic church in Okinawa and entertained family and friends at home with various big band favorites. He had a passion for history that he shared with his family while visiting countless historic locations in the United States, Europe and the Far East. He was a loving father and husband who thought of others before himself. He embraced life with a sense of humor and found happiness in the simple pleasures in life - his family, friends, and home – wherever that was. He will be dearly missed here on earth, but will be enthusiastically received in heaven, where his faith has surely led him.
There will be no viewing or visitation. The Gibbons Funeral Home, 301 Church Street, Gallitzin, Pa 16641 is in charge of arrangements. A Memorial Mass to be announced will be celebrated at a later date.
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