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C. Burton "Bud" Nelson

June 29, 1926 ~ September 9, 2018 (age 92)
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C. Burton "Bud" Nelson, 92, of Rockford; Civic Leader, Sportsman, Author

C. Burton “Bud” Nelson “moved on” September 9, 2018 in Rockford, Illinois.  He was born in Rockford on June 29, 1926 to John F. and Nannie (Erlandson) Nelson, their seventh child.  He was predeceased by his wife of fifty-two years, Nancy (Cameron); brothers, Archie and John; and sisters, Jeanette (Walter) Carlson, Alice (Ernest) Johnson, Adelyn (Bertil) Carlson, and Clarice Nelson.  He is survived by his daughter, Andrea; his son, John; and several nieces.

He attended Rockford Public Schools, graduating from East High School.  In his senior year, he served as President of the Boy’s Student council.  After his military service, he attended Augustana College, where he was named to the Dean’s List, lettered in football, and was elected to Alpha Psi Omega, national honorary dramatics fraternity.  He graduated Cum Laude from Beloit College in 1951 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, national honorary scholastic fraternity, He received a Master of Science degree in Business Administration from Northern Illinois University and was elected to Sigma Iota Epsilon, national honorary management fraternity.  He was named Alumnus of the Year in 1971 by the University’s College of Business.  He was a guest lecturer at a number of colleges and universities across the country.

Nelson was a combat infantryman during World War II in Europe.  He served in the 17th Airborne Division as a glider infantry trooper and as a paratroop scout in the 82nd Airborne Division.  He was awarded the Parachutist Wings, Glider Trooper Wings, Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star Medal, Good Conduct Medal, European Theater Medal with two battle stars, World War II Victory Medal, German Occupation Medal, and a number of unit citations,  He served as Intelligence Non-Com for the Special Troops, 82nd Airborne Division.  His account of his World War II service is available on DVD at the Winnebago County Memorial Hall as part of the Record of the War compiled by the U.S. Library of Congress.

He was probably best known locally for his leadership in community-wide campaigns, including successful referenda for the Rockford Public Schools and Rock Valley College, and fundraisers for several charities, including the Red Cross and Boy Scouts.  He was chairman of the Rockford United Fund Drive in 1966, its first million-dollar campaign.  He served as Vice-Chairman and Public Information Officer of the local Red Cross chapter, and served as District Chairman of the Chaske District, Boy Scouts of America.  He was a member of the local Blood Bank for over half a century, donating 200 pints, or 25 gallons, of blood.

He was elected Republican Precinct Committeeman from his Rockford Township Precinct, and was elected to the County Board of Supervisors in the early sixties.  He took leadership roles in many election campaigns, both primaries and general elections.

Nelson’s career at Sundstrand Corporation spanned the years from 1943 to 1969, with periods of absence for military service and college. Beginning before his seventeenth birthday as a production control clerk, he held a number of positions, culminating as Assistant to the Executive Vice President.  He was elected President of the Sundstrand Employees’ Association in 1956.  While at Sundstrand, he served as member of the Board of Directors of the Public Affairs Council in Washington, D.C.

In 1969, Governor Richard Ogilvie appointed Nelson to the Illinois Commerce Commission, the state’s utility and transportation regulatory body, where he served as Commissioner and Chairman for over ten years, being re-appointed by both Governor Dan Walker and Governor James Thompson.  He was Chairman of the State of Illinois Emergency Transportation Board from 1971 to 1980, and served on the Governor’s Council from 1969 to 1973.  He represented Illinois on the Board of Directors on the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners in Washington, D.C., and was elected President of the Mid-America Commissioners’ Conference.  After leaving State service, he was elected President of Commissioners Emeritus, the national organization of former commissioners.

In 1980, Nelson joined the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) in Palo Alto, California, as Director of Regulatory Relations and as Executive Director of EPRI’s Advisory Council. He was also active in the transfer of technology information to member utilities and to regulators of electric utilities.  These activities brought him to all fifty states and the District of Columbia.  He continued to lecture and conduct seminars at educational institutions across the country.  After retiring from EPRI, he served as a consultant to the Gas Research Institute in Washington and Chicago for several years.

An avid hunter and fisherman, he founded the Kepotah Sportsman’s Club in 1953, serving as its first President, first Board Chairman, and long-time Director.  In 1954, he directed the Club’s acquisition of Kepotah Woods, west of Shirland in the northwest corner of Winnebago County.  The property straddles the Sugar River, and has been improved with buildings and trap, rifle, and archery ranges,  Among its many activities, the Club conducts firearm safety courses for young people and adults.

Nelson’s published works include five books written for gifted children and a Civil War action novel, “Incident at Pittston Crossing.”  During his retirement years, he maintained his life-long hobby of hand casting and painting lead soldiers.  

A private family service will be held.

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