A. Nelson Smith

April 26, 1923 ~ February 18, 2020 (age 96)

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A. Nelson Smith, Jr., 96, of San Diego, CA and former 54-year resident of Rockford, IL passed away on February 18, 2020.  He was born April 26, 1923 in Winterset, IA to Ambrose Nelson Smith, Sr. and Lillian Miles Smith.  Nelson graduated from Dunlap High School, Dunlap, IA in 1941.  He attended Coe College, Cedar Rapids, IA, served in the Army Air Corps during World War II and graduated from the University of Iowa in 1947 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Commerce.  He was a member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, played halfback for the University of Iowa football team and also ran track for the Hawkeyes.

Nelson married Barbara Jeanne Bygrave in Lansing, MI, May 27, 1950.  They resided in Park Forest, IL, Elmhurst, IL and Bartlesville, OK while he was employed by Phillips Petroleum Company.  They moved to Rockford, IL in 1958 and founded Rockford Oil Company where he served as President until his retirement in 2005. 

Nelson was an active and longtime member of Rockford Kiwanis Club, past Board Member and President of Ken Rock Community Center, member of Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association, National Petroleum Marketers Association, Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Rockford Country Club, Clocktower Racquet Club, The University Club of Rockford and Iowa Letterman’s Club.

Nelson loved family and sports, enjoying the competition and camaraderie of playing golf, basketball at the YMCA well into his fifties and tennis five days a week until 89 years of age.  In addition, he loved playing with, watching and supporting his children and grandchildren in their many athletic endeavors.  He was a lifetime supporter of the University of Iowa athletic teams, scouting young talent for the men’s football and basketball programs and holding season football tickets for over 60 years.

Nelson is survived by his son, Gregory N. (Kim) Smith, Denver, CO and daughter, Nancy S. Klahn (Dennis), Poway, CA; daughter-in-law, Lana K. Smith, Rockford, IL; grandchildren, Dana M. Palmer (Tyler), Naperville, IL, Tara N. Jorfald (Tor), Golden, CO, Laurel J. Smith (Brandon), Carbondale, CO, Bradley N. Klahn, Marina del Rey, CA, Brian D. Klahn, Del Rio, TX and Kathryn R. Klahn, San Francisco, CA; granddaughter Lisa’s husband, Nicholas Scribner and several great grandchildren. He is predeceased by his wife, Barbara B. Smith, son, Douglas B. Smith, granddaughter, Lisa K. Scribner, parents and sisters, Mary S. Schmidt and Isabel S. Bennett.

Arrangements are pending with California Funeral Alternatives, Poway, CA and a private service will be held at a future date.  A special thanks for the loving care and compassion shown to Nelson by the wonderful staff at Wesley Willows, Casa de las Campanas Health Center and The Elizabeth Hospice.

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