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Gerhart "Gary" Nelson

Died: Tue., Jul. 24, 2012

- Service details not available -


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Gerhart 'Gary' Nelson

STEVENSVILLE - Gerhart 'Gary' Nelson, age 86, of Stevensville went to be with Jesus Tuesday morning July 24, 2012. He passed peacefully in his sleep at his home in Stevensville.

Gary was born in 1926 to his mother Anna and his father Gay. His father, who fought and was injured in World War I, made a living working on the railroad. Gary was the oldest of four boys. Some of his fond childhood memories included his dog, swimming in the Yellowstone River with his pals and learning about Jesus. Among his not so fond memories were watching his parents struggle through the Depression, his violin lessons and his school work.

He turned out to be a "late bloomer" when it came to his academics. He went on to earn his B.S. of Forestry from Montana State University (now UM) in Missoula. At the age of 25 he was drafted into the Korean War and served two years as a cartographer in the Army.

He then returned to UM in Missoula to finish his masters degree in Forestry, and began his career in the U.S. Forest Service.

His illustrious career in the Forest Service including being a smokechaser and putting out a fire on an adjoining mountain during the infamous Mann Gulch fire in Helena, being one of the first Job Corp supervisors and being the supervisor of different forests. When he retired in 1983, he was the supervisor of range and watershed for Region 1.

He met the girl of his dreams at a dance club in Deer Lodge. Julia Schaefbauer. She was a local school teacher and in December 1957 they were married.

At the age of 39 he became a father with his first son Gary J. and 17 months later his second son Terry.

In 1978 they finally settled in Stevensville where they have lived and served in the community until now.

He and Julie were also very involved in each community they lived in. They attended church, taught Sunday School, participated in small Bible studies, and did volunteer work with the local schools, charities and civic organizations. Gary also served on several boards including the Stevensville Methodist Church board, the Stevensville School Board and the Ravalli County Planning Board.

Gary was also a "late bloomer" when it came to his study of music. He took up violin again after retirement and began taking lessons from Dr. Dody, a professor at UM.

He loved classical music and opera and he improved his abilities with the violin and began to do small and various performances. He also loved children and eventually, after many requests, he began to teach violin to local students.

Gary's life has been one of love and compassion to his fellow man, a devoted husband of 55 years, a loving father to more than his own, and model citizen to the communities where he lived, a beloved violin teacher, a constant and faithful friend.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Gay and Anna; his brothers, Burton and Sylvan; and his son Gary J. He is survived by his brother, Marvin, of Bozeman; wife, Julie, and son, Terry (Darlene) of Hamilton; his four grandchildren, Seth, Mark, Jessica and Devin; other extended family and many others he touched throughout his life that considered him a father figure.

Gary touched so many with his love of people that there are many stories out there. Gary's memorial service celebrating his life will be on Aug. 2. Come with your memory story of Gary, if you are shy write it out and it can be read.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012 at the United Methodist Church in Stevensville. A graveside service will follow and then a reception back at the church.

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Condolence Booklet

Dale and Kathy Dufresne
   Posted Tue July 31, 2012
We feel privileged to have known Gary. So many in Stevi have benefited from Gary's efforts through his volunteering, not to mention how much we appreciated his time on the school board. Recently we were able to have Mark Paul share some violin music thanks to Gary's lessons! How neat it is that his life was filled with an impressive variety! Our thoughts and prayers are with the Nelson family.

Ginger Desrosier
   Posted Tue July 31, 2012
I have had some wonderful people come into my life while doing Hospice work but one that will always stand out is Gary. I believe him to be one of the most wonderful people I have met and a God loving man. He knew where he was going and I was happy to confirm that. In the arms of Jesus he will be forever. Love and prayers to the family and sweet Julie.

Karleen Allsop
   Posted Tue July 31, 2012
I took violin lessons from Gary when I was younger. He was always so patient and so sweet, even when I hadn't practiced. I have many fond memories about Gary. His kindness and generosity will not be forgotten. I am privileged to have known him. My heart goes out to his family.

Linda Kokko Smith
   Posted Tue July 31, 2012
I feel privileged that Gary was a part of my life and grateful for the possitive influence he provided me. He left a legacy in the Forest Service both before and after retirement. My thoughts and prayers for Julie, Terry, Darlene and family.

Rosa Nygaard
   Posted Thu August 02, 2012
I was honored with the priviledge to work for Gary at the Regional Office in Missoula. I am so grateful for the opportunity he gave me. His gentle manner and dedication to the Forest Service was greatly admired. My thoughts and prayers are with the family.

Cindy Anderson
   Posted Thu August 02, 2012
I only met Gary a few years ago, but he left such an impression on me - I'm so very grateful I knew him. He was my absolute favorite customer, and no matter what kind of day I was having, seeing him brightened it up as from darkness to light. I looked forward to seeing him, and when he could no longer get around, I really felt a void. I am looking so forward to seeing him again in heaven! My condolences and prayers go out to his family and to Jason. "Though sorrow may last through the night, joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5." God bless

Marla Mahoney
   Posted Fri August 03, 2012
Gary and I shared "the knife story". Eight years ago my Father gave me a pocketknife that my brother had found down by the river many years before, while he was fishing. The knife had "Gary Nelson" inscribed on it. There was one Gary Nelson in the Stevensville phonebook. So I called Gary and asked him if he would be interested in having the knife. To make a long story short, Gary was delighted to have the knife: it was his son's (Gary J.) and Gary J. had lost it while fishing, many years ago. Gary invited me to his home and told me the story of losing his beloved son. He was so happy to have this small item of his son's returned to him. Thereafter, whenever I saw Gary, he gave me a HUGE hug and a beautiful smile. What a wonderful man he was. My thoughts are with the Nelson Family.

Joe & Kea Yanzick
   Posted Sun August 12, 2012
Gary left music in our lives and souls. He was a beautiful man. He will be missed. We like to think that he is now shaking hands in Heaven with my father, Clifford Thex, as they tune their fiddles and make beautiful music together.

Bitter Root Humane Assoc.
   Posted Sun August 12, 2012
A donation has been made in Gary's name by Joe and Kea Yanzick. We are so sorry for your loss.

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