Obituary: Clifford Allen Nelson

June 11 1948 - July 5, 2024
Clifford Allen Nelson
Posted at 10:38 AM, Jul 07, 2024

Clifford Allen Nelson passed away at Logan Health in Chester on July 5, 2024. Cliff was born to John & Louise Nelson on 11 June 1948, in Havre. Cliff was the oldest of 8 children.

A Celebration of Life BBQ, will be Saturday July 13th at 1:00 in the Joplin Memorial Park, Joplin, Mt. Military honors, by Malmstrom AFB Honor Guard.

Cliff only made it to the 6th grade in school. He helped at home raising his siblings & doing farm chores. He later went to work for Buttery’s as a baker. This went well until they realized he wasn’t 18. In 1968, he was drafted into the Army & Viet Nam he went. He spent 18 months there. On returning, he moved to Hungry Horse, there he worked at Anaconda Aluminum plant and went into construction work & got married. This marriage produced 5 children, after a stent in Hungry Horse, they moved to Havre where he worked at the post yard and met his lifelong friend Chad. He later moved his family to Browning where he worked at the bus garage.

Cliff went to Havre & learned how to fly an airplane. It didn’t take much training. He bought his1st plane & flew back to Browning. He then moved to Great Falls, divorced, worked for DJs Mazda & started his own car body & mechanic shop. His dear friend Frank and he became involved with stock car racing, which he continued to do until a couple years ago. He raced a variety of classes in Northwest United States and Canada. Cliff moved back to Havre & went back into the construction business. He helped his good friend Chris (who was the Chief of police) with police work & hunting coyotes. They were licensed by the state to do predator control. In 1979, he met his now wife, Nancy & they had 1 child. In November of 1980, they lost their home to a fire & moved to Kremlin. Cliff got the older boys involved with boxing in Havre. Work then took him and his family to Evanston, Wyoming. There he was a top mechanic in the oil field. After a few years there, Great Falls called him home. He started his body shop up again & also back to racing!

He then ventured back to Hungry Horse, & on to Alaska. In Alaska he mainly did construction work, but also worked a gold mine, which involved the whole family.

In 1986 we moved back to Hungry Horse & started Nelson Construction. Cliff became a hunting guide for a friend & spent most of the hunting season in Spotted Bear, which he really enjoyed. Wintertime was for boxing, where he helped start a boxing club & trained & traveled all over with the boxers. Cliff became involved with the Hungry Horse Vol. Fire Dept. He later became Chief until he retired from it in 1999.

Cliff was asked to be Santa in Hungry Horse. He really loved visiting the kids & giving them gifts. He loved it so much, he started being Santa in Chester, then later in Joplin. No matter how rough he felt, being the flying Santa was always a must! He loved the children!

In 1998, an opportunity came to run the Tiber Marina. 11 years spent running the marina & Cliff still worked construction in Hungry Horse. Cliff loved being at the marina & meeting so many wonderful people. He enjoyed putting on BBQ's & good parties! He enjoyed being back on the east, side & so we moved to Joplin.

He enjoyed fishing, & he did several tournaments with his friend Chris. They managed to win Fresno & Tiber! They did tournaments all over the state & even traveled to Canada for some.

In 2011, we purchased the Joplin Bar which he helped run until his health started to get the best of him. He was able to venture out at our last Art in the Park & Car show to see everyone.

Cliff is survived by his wife Nancy, sons Jr (Jenny) of Hungry Horse, John (Darci) of Ulm, Jay of Joplin, Josh of Hungry Horse. Daughters Janey of Kalispell, Judy (Christopher) of Harrison, & Kim of California, son Joe of Iowa. Sisters Karen, Sharon (Greg) of Kalispell, Margaret of Ashly Lake, Donna of. Missouri, Brother Leonard (Trudy) of Vaughn. 31 grandchildren & 31 great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his son Jim, his parents, his in-laws Ed & Billie Ribich, brothers Melvin & Carl, numerous other family & friends.