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Izzy Nelson

Born: 5/27/1936, Dillion, Montana
Death: 1/6/2020, Moab, Utah

William Howard “Izzy” Nelson passed away January 6, 2020 at his home in Moab, Utah

My adventure on this planet began in Dillon, Montana, May 27, 1936. For quite a while preceding this event my dad fielded the question "Izzy a boy or izzy a girl?" which led to my nickname "Izzy."

I have little memory of early life, but I have a reminder of a significant event when at two years of age at the Camp Bird Mine I tipped over a percolator of boiling coffee, pouring it all over the front of me. My dad snowshoed me to The Miner's Hospital in Ouray, Colorado. I survived, but retained the scars for the rest of my life.

By time for school (6 years old and first grade back then) we had moved to Telluride. I went to school there from the first to graduation. Other than being a pretty good trumpet player, there was probably nothing much to distinguish myself there. I acquired two sisters, Bridget and Pat. I had various jobs from a young age and was raised with a good work ethic. One of those jobs was at the newspaper/printing shop where unbeknownst to me I learned a marketable skill.

In 1954 I left for The University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. I realized I was a "printer," and had no problem finding work, and work that paid well. Since then I have encouraged kids to learn a trade while in high school - it can really pay off. Highlight for me in college was A Phi 0, a national service fraternity. We did good things, and I made many lasting friends.

Later in college raging hormones prevailed and I got married to Wendy Bennett. To avoid getting drafted, or lose the GI benefits, I signed up with the National Guard for six years. After basic training I could return to school. While in basic, I got a taste of political influence. The print shop where I was working had a union election, and I was outspoken anti-union. One of the owners was a New Mexico politician, and I got sent from Fort Ord, California to Albuquerque to vote in that election.

1960, a fraternity brother, Dave Rivera and I, left school to work a uranium lease in Moab where my parents were living. We anticipated making our fortune and returning to school. Shortly thereafter my wife followed, having graduated from the University of New Mexico. No kids yet. No fortune for us. I never left but my friend went on to a successful career in pharmaceuticals. After a few years working in the mines, a local print shop and the Times Independent, my dad and I started the Fix-It Shop, a small time repair business that blossomed into Nelson's TV and Refrigeration. Dave worked there for a while, got married, and moved north to pursue a career more in line with his college education. My wife and our two kids, Stephanie and Eric, moved to Arizona to pursue her master's degree, and our divorce shortly followed, however we remain on good terms. Eric and Stephanie were for the most part raised by their mother. They ended up responsible adults with a good work ethic. They often spent summers with me. Stephanie says she learned her love and respect for the outdoors from me. "I would never litter after having to pick up all that trash along the way while we were driving up into the mountains as kids." Daddy proud? You bet!

During this time I became involved in the Jaycees, Toastmasters, the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary and the Fire Service. I served as president of Rotary and of the Chamber of commerce, accomplishing nothing outstanding in either case. As to the fire service, one of our employees, Dick Hammer and I stirred the pot at our troubled fire department, resulting in our firing, subsequent reinstatement, the hiring of a full time fire chief with the instructions to address the issues we had raised. Over a period of time the department evolved into probably the outstanding volunteer department in the State of Utah.

I spent 46 years with the fire service, 16 as a fireman and 30 as an elected commissioner where I served as Chairman of the Fire Board.

Marriage number two to Rocky (Judy) Pratt involved the widowed wife of my high school science teacher, good friend, best man at my first wedding, and someone who had much influence in my continued education. With this wedding came three stepsons: Lance, Jan and Karl. This marriage lasted eight years. During that time we camped and hiked a good portion of the La Sal Mountains. She is currently deceased, and I remain close to Jan, who still lives in Moab.

My third and long lasting marriage to Lois Frazier occurred in 1977, with a bonus of four more step children: Pam, Lisa, Joe and Robert. I did not adopt them but consider them like my own flesh and blood. Lois and I "clicked" and we spent many happy years together. With good humor in mind, Lois became known as the Wicked Step Mother.

When my dad retired I got out of the electronics part of the business, bought a building on the south end of town and with trepidation left downtown Moab. It was a good move. From 1980 the business grew and prospered.

In 1981 we put our money where our mouth was and built a high mass, solar home with solar domestic hot water and a solar greenhouse on Arches Drive.

In 1995 the Chamber of Commerce named me Businessman of the Year, an award I was quite proud of.

In 1993 dad died and per his instructions we put my mother in a home in Grand Junction as an Alzheimer's patient where she died two and a half years later, a miserable time for all involved. Lois and I traveled to Grand Junction nearly every weekend for those two and a half years. Alzheimer's is a terrible way to end your life.

We bought out my sisters' interest in my parents' smaller house, giving up our house on the hill.

I kept busy working, camping and fishing, and with the fire service until 2005 when I sold out the business to Monte Curtis, a longtime employee, and traded my work uniform for Hawaiian shirts and shorts. I later retired from the fire service and after a few years pretty much traded fishing for geocaching with my son and best friend Eric, and hiking with my dog Bingo. Thirteen years of enjoyable retirement and I was not a nuisance to Lois.

In 2019 the BIG C took over my life and it was suggested I write my own obituary, so here it is. It turned out more like an autobiography. Blood draws, chemo infusions and scans did their job and for several months I had a pretty good quality of life, more so than was predicted. I had plenty of time to get my life in order so hopefully I didn't leave a mess for others. My caregivers were helpful, compassionate and considerate without exception. It certainly made the last year easier to deal with. Friends and family provided abundant help where and when needed. Bless them all!

At Izzy’s request cremation has taken place and a private family services will be held at a later date.

Tributes:

I'm sorry for your loss, Izzy was a great guy. I enjoyed his friendship, our times bow hunting, and working on the fire department which led to some great memories.
- Brent Foy

Lois - I just want you to know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Love,
- Inalyn

Hello, I moved to Moab from SLC in 1988, having loved SE Utah since childhood visits. Red Rocks made a very deep impression and still do. Anyway, I think it was in 1989 that a small washer/dryer was shipped to my apt in Moab. I had only part-time jobs then and money was pretty thin. Someone offered Izzy's name as a person who could set it up for me. He arrived at my screen door, wearing a long leather work apron (and I hoped!) shorts; with sandals. No shirt or just a T- shirt, as I recall. I didn't mention my limited financial circumstances. After he had completed the installation, I asked what I owed and he said, "Nothing. Welcome to Moab. I hope you enjoy living here." I stayed for the next seven years when my mother's illness drew me back to SLC. I have shared this experience with many people since returning to SLC, which echoes the small-community vibe that I love so well. It inspires me to this day. My condolences to all Izzy's family, far and wide. Keep his spirit going!
- Jeanie Reynolds

I was shocked to learn of Izzy's death. I well remember the little Fix It shop on Center Street, and Lois worked there. She was so beautiful, and Izzy was good at fixing whatever I took to him. He was always pleasant and helpful to everyone, the kind who everyone wants to be friends with. A great neighbor, who waved when I drove by their Tusher home. (I envied their beautiful porch!) Izzy contributed a lot to our town. He will be missed.
- Mary Jane Cozzens

I'm sorry for your loss, Izzy was a great guy. I enjoyed his friendship, our times bow hunting, and working on the fire department which led to some great memories.
- Brent Foy

Hi Lois, I don't know if you remember me...but me and Robert were great friends at the U of U and still are...we came down to Moab as much as we could back then. I was sorry to hear of Izzy's passing. That is a wonderful obituary he wrote. I hope you are doing okay and all Robert's friends are thinking about you. Take care,
- Nick & Talena Gaskill

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   For love itself lives on;

   Cherished memories never fade
   Because one loved is gone.

   Those we love can never be
   More than a thought apart;

   For as long as there’s a memory,
   They live on within our heart.

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