Stewart E. Nelson, 66
Stewart (Stu) was born on October 7, 1946 to the late Ervin & Helen (Olson) Nelson in Amery, WI. He grew up there on a bend in the Apple River where he learned to hunt and fish and devise his own entertainment.
Stu attended the local Amery grade school and graduated from high school in 1964. He was inducted into the US Army in 1964 where he served on the DMZ in Korea, which was a combat zone, and did a tour of duty in Vietnam. He was the commander of a team of six in a personnel carrier. Stu was honorably discharged with the rank of sergeant in August, 1967. Following high school, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point on the GI bill and graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree in 1972.
Stu married Meryl Lee Hoeft on January 24, 1970, at St. Paul’s United Methodist church in Stevens Point.
Stu began his career with Sentry Insurance in 1969 at their Dixon Street location delivering mail to other functions within the organization. He soon realized after a conversation with a gentleman, who had his feet up on his desk, there were other opportunities available which didn’t require being on his feet all day long. From the mail room-supply clerk position, Stu began his long career in the Claims Department when he was hired as an office claims adjuster in 1973. In 1975 he was promoted to a field claims adjuster, with responsibility for the Green Bay territory. In 1977 Stu returned to Stevens Point and became a claims supervisor. In 1980, he was selected to fill a new role within the Sentry Claims Department, handling and supervising claims for the company’s largest customers in the National Account Claims Department until 1984 when Stu was promoted to the Sentry Corporate Claims staff assuming responsibility for oversight of the company’s countrywide liability claims. During his time in Corporate Claims, Stu was instrumental in the consolidation of all Commercial Claims from a regional basis back to Stevens Point. He was the first manager to oversee this department and founded many of the claims procedures that exist in that department today. He was later promoted to National Accounts where he provided technical expertise to individuals handling claims for Sentry’s large Commercial accounts. Prior to his retirement in January, 2002, Stu returned to Corporate Claims and supervised its liability staff. In the 33 years he was employed by Sentry he never had to write a resume.
In his spare time, Stu enjoyed fly fishing. Being as it was his passion, he fished the Tomorrow and Little Wolf Rivers frequently; but also traveled to fly fish in Japan and England. He tied his own flies; built fly rods; and taught those skills to others. He hunted woodcock, grouse, whitetail deer and elk. He took 20-40 mile bicycle rides around Stevens Point; explored neighboring bike trails in Wisconsin; and pedaled in organized fund raising rides of 40, 150, and 275 miles to fight diseases and support the United Way. He had a season ski pass at Granite Peak for the past 12 years and used it weekly. He biked on Mallorca, went birding in Costa Rica, hiked in Italy and the Rockies, snorkeled in Hawaii and the Caribbean, and cruised along the coasts of Norway and Alaska. Camping, canoeing and rock climbing were among his other pursuits.
Stu was a founding member of the Aldo Leopold Audubon Society and active until the present; he was a past member of Ducks Unlimited; instructed Hunter Safety for the State of Wisconsin DNR for over 15 years; Stu was a very active member of the local Frank Hornberg Chapter of Trout Unlimited and taught entomology and fly tying at their annual Fly Fishing School held each year at the Riverside Bible Camp; he was currently a member of the Ruffed Grouse Society and he taught fly tying and entomology for over 30 years at UWSP Treehaven. He was also a member of the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau; the Ridges Sanctuary in Bailey’s Harbor; and Windjammers Sailing Club in Suamico, WI.
Survivors include wife Meryl Lee Nelson, Stevens Point; brother Robin Nelson, Hillsboro, WI; in-laws Mike & Patty Hoeft, Green Bay; Marjean Hoeft and Lisa Vecoli, Minneapolis; Merlin & Ferne Hoeft, Oshkosh; nieces Lisa Nelson, Madison, and Lauren and Olivia Hoeft, Green Bay; and nephew Ben Nelson, Chicago.
Stu was preceded in death by his parents.
A Service, celebrating his life, will be held 11:00 am Thursday, March 7, 2013 at Boston Funeral Home. A Time of Sharing Memories will be held on Wednesday from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the funeral home and on Thursday from 10:00 am until the time of service.
Memorials can be made to Stu Nelson memorial -Frank Hornberg Chapter- Trout Unlimited; United Way of Portage County; or the Community Foundation Green Circle Trail. Online condolences may be made at www.bostonfuneralhome.net.