Thomas Henry Nelson, born on December 20, 1966, in Libby, Montana, was a man of many talents and an adventurous spirit. He lived a life full of varied experiences and touched the hearts of those who knew him. It is with heavy hearts that we announce his passing, suddenly on December 28, 2023, in Vancleave, MS.
Thomas began his remarkable journey at a young age. In 1977, he embarked on his first job as a newspaper delivery boy. He quickly took on more responsibilities and found himself helping his brother wash vehicles while he recovered from a broken leg. Growing up on a miniature farm, Thomas learned the values of hard work and sustenance from the land. He tended to cows, collected eggs, and bailed hay alongside his siblings.
Throughout his formative years in Kalispell, Montana, Thomas utilized his strong work ethic by taking on odd jobs on various farms in the Flathead Valley area. But it was in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1987 that Thomas earned the nickname "Crash Nelson." He worked as a delivery driver for Navada Oak and crossed paths with Marion, who would later become the mother of his sons. In 1991, Thomas and Marion exchanged vows in Las Vegas.
In 1993, Thomas returned to Kalispell and worked at the local lumber mill. Seeking new challenges, he moved to Walls, Mississippi in 1994 where he further developed his carpentry skills by building sheds. Notably, Thomas played an essential role in the opening of Hollywood Casino in Tunica. Starting as a dealer, he eventually became a supervisor or "pit boss" at renowned establishments such as Horseshoe, Gold Strike & Bally’s Casino. His career in the casino industry spanned an impressive 22 years.
Thomas ventured to St. Louis briefly from 2003 to 2004 before returning to Walls, Mississippi, in 2005. He continued to make cherished memories with his family and friends while also facing significant challenges. In 2016, Thomas became legally disabled due to a major back injury that necessitated several operations.
Undeterred by adversity, Thomas redefined his career path and began working part-time in cabinetry alongside his best friend, Don Maddox. His talent and dedication shone through every piece of work he crafted, proving that even in the face of physical limitations, his skills remained unparalleled.
Thomas was more than just a hardworking individual; he had a zest for life that was infectious. He delighted in coaching baseball, a sport he held dear to his heart. His love for the outdoors knew no bounds – fishing held a special place among his passions, accompanied by hunting, hiking, camping, and kayaking. In high school, Thomas discovered boxing and earned the moniker "Gold Gloves" for his record and performance in the ring due to his unbeaten record and wins by knockout victories.
When not engaging in thrilling adventures, Thomas found solace in simpler pursuits. He enjoyed riding motorcycles of all kinds - from dirt bikes to Harley Davidsons - relishing the feeling of freedom on the open road. Additionally, he possessed a love for classic cars, spending hours appreciating their timeless beauty. Thomas had an affinity for playing card games such as Solitaire and Cribbage and had an extensive repertoire of magic tricks up his sleeve.
Spending time with family brought immeasurable joy to Thomas's life. His proudest accomplishments revolved around being a loving father and doting grandfather. His sons Justin Thomas Nelson (Ariana) and Sebastian Tyler Nelson (Brittany) were the center of his universe. Each moment spent by their side was treasured dearly. The arrival of his grandchildren Luca Nelson and Giavanna Nelson added newfound happiness and purpose to his later years.
In reminiscing about favorite things, it is impossible to ignore Thomas's gift for humor and storytelling. He had a knack for sharing jokes that would light up a room and recounting tales that enthralled his audience. Thomas had a refined palate and found delight in savoring Sushi and German Chocolate Cake. Woodworking provided him with an avenue for creativity, while history and conspiracy TV shows as well as comedy and scary movies captivated his imagination.
Thomas Henry Nelson leaves behind cherished memories that will forever be etched in the hearts of those who knew him. He is survived by his children, grandchildren, his beloved mother, Judith Nelson, who was a pillar of strength throughout his life. Thomas's siblings - Carmen (Ronald) Moyer, Donald Nelson, Linda (Allen) Williamson, and Harvey (Kimberly) Nelson - were his closest allies in navigating life's ups and downs; his ex-wife Marion Nelson; also survived by aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces and numerous friends.
Preceded in death by his father Henry "Hank" Nelson, his brothers Todd Nelson and Bradley Nelson; and his lifelong friend Tim Nestegard.
Thomas Henry Nelson may have faced numerous challenges throughout his life, but he approached each one with determination and unwavering spirit. His legacy lies not only in the careers he pursued or hobbies he enjoyed but in the love he showered upon his family and friends. Thomas's warm smile, infectious laughter, and compassionate nature will be fondly remembered by all fortunate enough to have known him.
Though he may no longer walk among us, Thomas's spirit will forever live on in the hearts of those who loved him. As we grieve his passing, let us also celebrate the beautiful moments he shared with us and the memories that will endure for generations to come.
To celebrate his joyful spirit, we invite family and friends to gather at the North Woolmarket Community Center (16320 Old Woolmarket Rd., Biloxi, MS) on Saturday, January 27, 2024, from 12:00pm to 2:00pm. Let’s come together to share stories, reminisce about the good times, and remember the presence he left in each of us. Food and refreshments will be provided as we honor his memory in the way he would have wanted – surrounded by the people he loved the most, having a good time.
We are deeply grateful for the outpouring of love and support during this difficult time. Your warm words, shared memories, countless prayers, and kind gestures have brought great comfort to our family.
Join us as we celebrate the incredible life of Thomas Nelson. Bring your fondest memories, your brightest smile, and let’s remember the man who never met a stranger.
With love and gratitude,
Justin & Sebastian Nelson