Obituary: John Norman Nelson

John Norman Nelson was born on June 2, 1937, in Great Falls, Montana
Posted at 5:28 PM, Dec 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-12 19:29:21-05

John Norman Nelson was born on June 2, 1937, at Columbus Hospital in Great Falls, Montana, and died of complications of Parkinson’s disease at Great Falls Benefis Hospital on November 11, 2022. John was born with severe handicaps including almost total hearing loss and severe speech impairment. He did not get a hearing aid until late in high school.

In the fourth grade, John transferred from the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind to St. Thomas School, Great Falls, Montana. Despite his small stature and handicaps he became a good athlete. He was a fast runner and played shortstop in baseball. Later in high school, he also taught himself pole vaulting. In grade school, John had many hobbies including scientific interests in astronomy and chemistry; the latter anticipating his later career as a laboratory cytologist.

As a student at Great Falls Central Catholic High School, his prodigious abilities in music and visual art became evident. His mother Irene, a church organist, taught John vocal music, piano, and organ. He began oil painting on his own and taught himself many difficult piano scores including George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” and Claude Debussy’s “Children’s Corner Suite.”  On the side, he became a skilled pool player, and continued to play improvisational jazz until the last months of his life. To read the complete obituary and share condolences, visit the O'Connor Funeral Home website.