PRINCETON — Richard L. "Dick" Nelson, 79, of Princeton died suddenly at home on Friday, July 18, 2014.
Dick was born on March 30, 1935, in Princeton to Frances and Malcolm Nelson (both deceased). He was raised with five siblings. Surviving are Wilbur (Virginia) Nelson and Bob Nelson. Preceding him in death were Marilyn Gonigam, Norma Nelick and Ron Nelson. Dick is also survived by several nieces and nephews.
He was a graduate of Princeton High School, Class of 1953, and served in the Army as a radar operator in Virginia and Alaska from 1955 until 1957.
Dick married Judith Ward on Sept. 1, 1957. In the fall, they would have been married 57 years. She survives along with their three children, Leanne (Dr. Jeff) Martin of Princeton, Laurie Wallace of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Steve (Gina) Nelson of Princeton. Also surviving are four grandchildren, Nicole Martin, Kelsey Wallace, and Colin and Audrey Nelson.
Dick was the founder of Nelson Enterprises which includes Advanced Asphalt Company, TCI Manufacturing and Sales, Tri-Con Materials LLC, Pavement Maintenance Services Inc., D&J Leasing and AAA Aviation LLC. He also founded Production Engineered Products and became a nationally known leader in the aggregate industry. He produced the PEP Vari-Vibe Screen that changed the world and is still used internationally today. He also acquired Kory Industries with a group of other investors.
Dick was also a pioneer for environmental causes and promoted the recycling of asphalt and other "green" issues.
During his entrepreneurial and tenured years, Dick merited worldwide patent recognition and employed several hundred people.
He always credited his success to the "team" who managed his companies. He believed his success happened because of the people he surrounded himself with in his businesses.
When Dick celebrated his 50th business anniversary with an open house to recognize his team, the Nelson family established an annual scholarship for a Princeton High School senior student planning to attend a vocational school. Caterpillar matches that scholarship.
Professionally, Dick served as past president of the Illinois Asphalt Paving Association and was recognized as a leader in various professional circles throughout the United States.
He was a firm believer in giving back to his community and was a past president of the Princeton Park District with an additional 20 years of service as a board member. He work diligently for the development of Zearing Park and the Bureau County Metro Center.
He also made volunteer and material contributions to the city of Princeton and Princeton High School, and was a past grand marshal of the Princeton Homestead Festival Parade.
Dick was the first fundraising chairman of the Bureau County United Way and volunteered his time with Cubs Scouts and Princeton Little League.
Having a strong faith in a "Supreme Being", Dick also served on the board of St. Matthew's Lutheran Church.
Family and family activities were always an important part of Dick's life. Flying was his passion and he even built his own helicopter. He also enjoyed photography. He was an avid reader and loved to travel.
In 2011, Dick realized a lifelong dream and authorized his autobiography, "Paving the Road to Success," his journey through life and in management.
Services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 23, at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in Princeton.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, July 22, at the Norberg Memorial Home in Princeton.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Princeton Park District or St. Matthew's Lutheran Church.
Online condolences may be left at www.norbergfh.com.