Baldwin Fairchild Funeral Home

994 E Altamonte Dr, Altamonte Springs, FL


Walter C. Nelson

March 19, 1924September 30, 2019

Walter (Wally) C. Nelson of Longwood was born on March 19, 1924 in Racine, WI. He died September 30, 2019 in Longwood, FL. He is survived by his stepdaughters Jane Harper Oitzinger (Douglas) of Marinette, WI; Gail Titen (Andrew) of Tampa, FL; Mary Collins (Jeffery) of Altamonte Springs, FL; and stepson Jeffery Clausen of Altamonte Springs, FL. He is also survived by sisters Effie M. Hjortness of Las Vegas, NV; Mary E. Hjortness of Nekoosa, WI; and Nora J. Bell of Oak Creek, WI. He was preceded in death by his lovely wife, Dorothy Clausen Nelson. Wally grew up in Racine, WI during the Great Depression and graduated from high school in 1942, seven months after World War II broke out at Pearl Harbor. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and was inducted in 1943. Upon completion of basic training at the Infantry Replacement Training Center (IRTC) at Camp Roberts, CA, he was assigned to the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) at Loyola University in Los Angeles. Upon cancellation of the ASTP program, he was reassigned to the 89th Infantry Division before being sent to Ft. Meade, MD and then on to the port of embarkation at Newport News, VA. A troop ship took him to Italy where he was assigned to the 34th Infantry Division which held front line positions north of Florence. He was captured by the Germans in March 1945 and liberated from Stalag VIIA at Moosberg, Germany on April 29, 1945. Following World War II, he graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. His careers included aerospace engineering during which he wrote articles for technical journals and co-authored a textbook called Space Mechanics. Following the conclusion of the Apollo Program his career transitioned to sales management. As the Space Shuttle came online, he transitioned back to engineering at the Kennedy Space Center and worked on the Hubble Space Telescope. He had a life-long hobby of playing golf and served as a National Director of the American Ex-Prisoners of War. On retiring he began speaking to civic, student, and professional groups about space travel and exploration. This led to the making of a feature-length documentary, “Wally’s Mission on Mars,” about the counterculture of manned space flight, directed by filmmaker and friend, Lisa Mills. (He also took the time to write two other books, as well as an autobiography and this obituary.) He was a member of St. Stephens Lutheran Church in Longwood, where a memorial service will be held on October 19th at 10 am, followed by a reception. He will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery. He was loved by many and will be greatly missed. Please View and sign guestbook at www.baldwinfairchildeastaltamonte.com.


19 October

Memorial Service

10:00 am - 11:00 am

St. Stephen Lutheran Church

2140 Fl-434
Longwood, FL 32779


Walter C. Nelson

have a memory or condolence to add?

Frank Nelson

October 13, 2019

Uncle Wally, you will be truly missed ... but never forgotten. Your Memoirs of a Twentieth Century American, A BOWL OF CHERRIES , is so well done. Thank you. You made a big difference to so many.

Curt Job

October 12, 2019

We first met Wally at Sunday School where he was already 90. He would pose thought provoking questions and statements, often with humor, in our discussions. I remember him at the Mens’ Retreat participating in adult humor around the campfire. Oh those limericks! We learned about Wally’s history through several of his videos that he shared with us. He was a great American, a war hero, such a good man who will be missed.
Curt and Barbara Job

Wally at Sunday School

Anita Stolle (Brother Henry’s daughter)

October 12, 2019

Deepest sympathy to all of your family and friends. Thank for your service to family and country. I was proud to tell the stories of my Uncle Wally. Your stories were shared many times with great love.
My brother, Jim, has your name engraved with all your brothers that served, on a World War II Memorial in Presque Isle, WI.
Our last meeting was your nephew, Paul Nelson’s funeral in Arlington.
Proud to call you Uncle Wally!

Nylia Riggenbach

October 12, 2019

My good friend Wally, you will be missed in Sunday School and church. Your family is in my prayers!!

Gary Strauch

October 11, 2019

Hi, Wally:
It's me, Gary, from St. Stephen.
It has been a pleasure knowing you and saying hello to you at church and Sunday school every time I got to see you. Even in our Rabbi Circle bible class, you always had an interesting question or observation, or doubt, (as we all did) about the subject being taught.
I admired that and I admire you for your accomplishments in your life. I was somewhat aware of them, then I read your self-written words right here. I would really like to read your autobiography!
I have wondered to myself several times in the passed years of whether you had written down your story.
Everybody should write down their story!
I will remember you, Wally.
I greatly regret that I will be unable to attend your service because of my job but you will be in my memory.

God bless you.

Warmly, Gary

Dennis McClellan

October 10, 2019

Wally was nice enough to befriend me when we met a number of years ago. His first words to me were, "I bet I'm the first rocket scientist you've ever met."

Over the years I came to love Wally for all the things he was. While he was a tenacious person, he was also always very friendly and caring. I was fortunate to be his date for his last public appearance as a film documentarian. As Parkinson's took a stronger and more terrible hold on him, I began receiving more and more phone calls and tons of questions. I called him my "90-Something Stepson".

Wally's passing will leave a void in the lives of many who knew him. He impacted all who met him. I will miss my friend.