Site Navigation Menu Navigation
X Close

Colonel Hugh B. Nelson (Retired)

October 27, 1931 - January 21, 2020

Colonel Hugh B. Nelson (Retired)Hugh B. Nelson, Colonel Retired
October 27, 1931 – January 21, 2020
Hugh Berkley Nelson was born to Virginia and Paul Nelson in Albany, Oregon.  He grew up with his sister, Nancy, on the banks of the Willamette River where Paul farmed the lowlands. His first 7 grades of school were at the one-room Fairmount Grade School.   He was very active in the 4-H program and a lifelong supporter. He went to Albany public schools, graduating from Albany High School in 1949.   Willamette University was next, graduating in 1954 with a BS degree in Sociology.   He married Ann Klindworth  while at Willamette.   They both started careers in Social Work.   Hugh worked for the Marion County Juvenile Court and then the Crook County Juvenile Court.   In 1958 his career changed when he began working full-time with the Oregon Army National Guard.  This career included commands at the Battery, Battalion and Group level up to the position of Chief of Staff, Oregon Military Department.   In 1980 he was appointed US Property and Fiscal Officer until he retired in 1991. After military retirement, he served as a civilian working with the Air National Guard throughout the United States for 13 years.   His awards include the Oregon Distinguished Service Medal, Army Legion of Merit, Army Meritorious Service Medal with 3 clusters and both the Army and Air Force Commendation Medals.   He was an active member of Kiwanis for over 45 years, a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church, was a self-described “mediocre” golfer from high school until his 80’s.
As a father and grandfather, he believed strongly in parenting by model.   His father believed in learning by experience and risk-taking. He and Ann raised three sons in Portland and Salem.   He set an example of strong values, and through those, taught his sons about respect, honesty and commitment.
Following a divorce, Hugh married Sandy Stafford in 1982.   This began a new phase in his life as he opened his heart to her three children, offering the same quiet stability and support he had given to his three sons.   Together they offered love and support to children and grandchildren for all six. Sandy’s death in 2014 was heartbreaking for Hugh.
In 2015 he married Mary Anne Spradlin, who has been his friend and support during these later years of his life.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Anne; his children Bruce, Brian, and Greg Nelson and their families; stepchildren Mike, Craig, and Kara (Hassoun) Stafford  and their families; Mariah Rawlins and Miles Spradlin-Crater. There are 10 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. Hugh’s family wishes to thank Willamette Valley Hospice for the wonderful, compassionate care that has been provided during the last months of his life.
Celebration of Life will be held at Morningside United Methodist Church, 3674 12th St SE, Salem. Oregon at 2:00 p.m. on February 9, 2020. Interment will be at Willamette National Cemetery at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, February 10.
In lieu of flowers, a donation to the Morningside United Methodist Church Foundation is suggested.

Sign The Guest Book

Add your condolences, memories, photo, or prayers in the area below. Thank you for sharing.

After submitting your guest book entry, it will undergo a brief review by the Virgil T. Golden staff to ensure that it's not spam and it's appropriate for the context of this obituary. Once this review is complete, your obituary will be posted publicly on this page.

Guest Book Entries

So thankful to have been a part of Sandy and Hugh’s life.  My heart will always be filled with wonderful memories of time spent with them and their families. Sending my love, prayers and sympathy to Bruce, Brian, Greg, Mike, Craig, Kara and their extended family.  

Sandy Clouser

Hugh was a wonderful man.  I have only been aquatinted with him for about three years as a Kiwanis member.  He always wanted to be involved in having us help the Salem community to make a difference with the children and schools of this area.  He will be missed greatly by our Salem Kiwanis Club.  My prayers go out to the Nelson family.

When I think of Hugh, I think of a quiet, steady strength. Love to Bruce, Brian, Greg and families, the three sons I knew best; and to the rest of the family.
LaVelle and Frank Lasher

We are holding all of you in our hearts and prayers.  Becca & Frank Shields

Great person, neighbor and friend.  You will be missed.

I have sweet childhood memories of traveling to Oregon to visit family. Uncle Hugh had a strong presence, a twinkling eye smile, and an infectious laughter. He, Uncle Don and my Dad, Herb Carlson had some good adventures. Sending love and prayers to his many loved ones. Treasure the memories.

Elisa and I were long time friends of Hugh and are saddened by his death.  He beat the odd on continuing health issues. We are glad that we were able to introduce Hugh to his late wife Sandy and they had at least 25  wonderful  years together before her dementia. Hugh and Frank did Aqua Aerobics together and spent hundreds of hours talking together in the hot tub. These hundreds of conversations will be a cherished memory. We will miss him.  Frank and Elisa Reckendorf