Graveside services for Mr. Jack Arthur Nelson, 80, of Avinger, Texas will be held at 10:30 AM on Saturday, May 1, 2021 at Mims Chapel Cemetery in Avinger, Texas with Pastor Ray Prince officiating and under the direction of Haggard Funeral Home. A time of public visitation will be held on a come-and-go basis from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM on April 30, 2021 in the Captain Wm. Perry Chapel of Haggard Funeral Home in Jefferson, Texas.
Jack Arthur Nelson, age 80, of the Crestwood community, passed away in Longview, Tx, April 23, 2021. Jack was born to Margaret and Clarence Roy Nelson in Kokomo, Indiana, June 18th, 1940.
Jacks first airplane ride was at 6 weeks of age in the arms of his grandmother. They flew in a borrowed Cabin Waco. His mother was not comfortable enough to let him fly in his Dad’s open cockpit Waco! Aviation was in his blood from the start! His first solo flight was on his 16th birthday in an Aeronca Champ that he and his dad re-built in their garage. On his 17th birthday, he received his private license, following with a commercial license on his 18th birthday. While attending college, the normal flow of flight instruction and corporate flying followed.
The Navy called and he was off to Pensacola, Fl., flying the Beech T-34-B, then on to Meridian, Miss. And the North American T-2J. Later he went to Kingsville, Tx and learned the F9F and the F11. After flight training, he was off to Jacksonville, Fl., for A-4C training and aircraft carrier F. D. Roosevelt CVA-42 for two Mediterranean cruises and one Viet Nam cruise. During these cruises Jack made 266 carrier landings with 92 at night. Then he was back off to the Replacement Air Group as an Instrument Instructor in the Douglas TA4F. Jack was honorably discharged from the Navy in 1967 with the National Defense Service Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, The Viet-Nam Service Medal, the Republic of Viet-Nam Campaign Medal with Device, the Air Medal with 4 Gold Stars, and the Commander of the Seventh Fleet Unit Commendation.
After his military obligation was completed, he joined PAA American World Airways as a Flight Engineer on Boeing 707 aircraft. After 2 years he returned to corporate aviation in Houston, Tx., flying the Falcon Fan jet and later the Gulfstream II. Several years later he went to Saudi Arabia on a TWA contract to fly VIP’s on Gulfstream IIs and Tip Tank G-2S. After three years he returned to the US and flew domestically for a couple of years. The G-3 came out and he returned to the Middle East and Europe for another three years. Jack came back to Texas and retired only to be recalled by Pan American where he flew the 727 and Airbus 310 with a tour as an instructor on both in Miami, Florida. As luck would have it, Delta bought the European and Domestic routes and he then worked for Delta. At Delta, he flew the 727 Airbus 310 and the Douglas MD-88. After that he finally retired for good and operated a farm with cross bred cows, flying his Beech TravelAir B-95.
Jack was active in the Crestwood community volunteering both his intellect, time, and financial support. He served on the Jefferson Hospital Board, the Atlanta airport board, was an active member of the Mims Chapel United Methodist Church serving in various positions and most fondly, was a member of the Quiet Birdmen.
Jack is survived by his two daughters, Jill Nelson MacDonald of Ormand Beach, Florida, and Joy Nelson of Daytona Beach, Florida and his constant companion and true friend, Bettye Ferguson also of the Crestwood community.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his honor to the Mims Volunteer Fire Department, 9902 FM 729, Avinger Tx, 75630 or mimsvfd.org or the Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C.
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