Former El Dorado Hills Vision Coalition President Hal Nelson died peacefully on Dec. 15, 2012, at Kaiser Hospital in Roseville with his family at his side. He’d suffered a debilitating stroke 15 months earlier.
The family held a life celebration and remembrance at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in El Dorado Hills on Feb. 1, attended by an estimated 150 friends and family.
Hal and Jackie Nelson were a common sight at El Dorado Hills social events. Both were very involved with the El Dorado Hills Newcomers Club for many years, and enjoyed playing Bridge and Mexican Train.
Their son Todd Nelson played master of ceremonies for the upbeat memorial and confirmed that his parents loved a good party. That being the case, Hal would have enjoyed Friday’s celebration, which featured stories, songs, an outstanding buffet and far more laughs than tears.
“Wherever he went, he got involved, which is how it should be,” said Todd. “He was deeply involved in my kids’ sports, so it was fitting that he had the stroke at the pizza parlor after a cross-country meet.”
At the hospital that night Hal learned he’d had a stroke and joked that it could be worse, the Ducks could be losing. Hal ran high hurtles for the University of Oregon and remained a lifelong Ducks fan.
Todd delivered a moving account of his father’s final hours in the hospital. Hal described standing in a long line, waiting to pass through a door. He became periodically fearful, said Todd, but would then recognize a deceased family pet or an old friend, long since gone.
True to his life-long nature, “He struck up conversations and seemed to understand where the line led,” said Todd.
But bouts of fear over what lie ahead still haunted him. “I told him that I wouldn’t let him go until someone on the other side came to take him,” he added.
As the line grew shorter, his father relaxed. “He promised to come back and get each of us, but not before it was our turn,” said Todd.
Jackie, who’d been in a separate area of the hospital with her own health problems, arrived, and Hal was able to share his experience.
“We know he’s in Heaven because he described it,” said Jackie. “He said it was pink.”
“In the end he assured us that he was not afraid, and said he was thankful for the life he’d had,” said Todd. “Then he said, ‘Oh, I gotta’ go now. I love you,’ and he was gone. It was that simple.
“His death has given me a sense of peace. I know that when my time comes I can look for dad and it will be alright.”
Todd described his father as a man who “loved being a part of everything.”
Hal’s resume of community involvement confirms the description: Rotary, Elks, Moose and Masons. In El Dorado Hills he served on the Vision Coalition and active in SIRS and Newcomers. In Loomis he was a “friend of Del Oro,” and volunteered for numerous school track and field programs in a variety of capacities.
Hal is survived by Todd and his other children, Tracey Porter, Darcie Hubbard and Thomas Nelson, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations in Hal’s name to the Del Oro High School Cross Country Team, 3301 Loomis Road, Loomis 95650, or Placer Elementary School Running Program, 8650 Horseshoe Bar road, Loomis 95650.