James G. Nelson Sr.

October 27, 1941January 18, 2021

James G. Nelson Sr., age 79, of Ankeny, Iowa and Lake Havasu City, Arizona passed away on Monday, January 18, 2021 in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. A visitation will be held Thursday, January 28, 2021 from 5-7 p.m. at Ankeny Funeral Home followed by Rosary Service for family at 7pm. A funeral mass will be Friday, January 29, 2021 at 11 a.m. at All Saints Catholic Church, 650 NE 52nd Ave., Des Moines, Iowa 50313. Cremation will take place following the service and a private family military ceremony will be held at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery at a later date. Please visit for livestreaming of the funeral mass due to Covid-19 restrictions and online condolences for the Nelson family.

Jim was born October 27, 1941 in Humboldt, Iowa to Glen and Marion (Jensen) Nelson. After completing high school in Humboldt, Jim joined the Army then joined the National Guard in 1961 and making a career out of it retiring in 1994. While in the guard he attended UNI for couple years. He earned the rank of Master Sergeant and was very proud of his military career and his country. Jim met the love of his life, Helen C. Ford at Johnny’s Steak Harbor Restaurant in Humboldt, IA where mom waited tables. In 1964 they were united in marriage in Gilmore City, IA at St. John’s Catholic Church and together raised three children.

In Jim's younger years he enjoyed hunting, fishing, water skiing, being on a bowling league, and taking family vacations. These were hobbies he loved sharing with his children. During his working years, Jim was a self-employed contractor and built many homes and businesses in the Ankeny area. He became a mentor for many young men wanting to start their own construction business. Jim was very active in the Ankeny community with the Ankeny Builder's Association and sponsored little league teams. He was a member of the VFW, Ankeny Pork Board and helped develop the Prairie Ridge Sports Complex. He restored a 1964 Ford Galaxie and loved participating in car shows as a judge and competitor. Jim played in many golf leagues and once retired he moved to Lake Havasu City, Arizona where he would play golf regularly and cruise around in his Galaxie.

Left to remember Jim, include his wife of 56 years, Helen; children, Joan (Kelvin) Schoon, James, Jr (Melissa) Nelson, and Dottie Butler-Figley; grandchildren, Danielle (Eric) Hockenberry, Tim (Kelsey) Nelson, and Brandt Butler; and great-grandchildren, Joelle Hockenberry and a new baby boy coming May 2021; and siblings, Harriet Nelson, Connie (Ron) Williams, David Nelson, and Grant (Maxine) Nelson.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to the family to be used in planting trees in memory of Jim.


  • Visitation

    Thursday, January 28, 2021

  • Funeral Mass

    Friday, January 29, 2021



James G. Nelson Sr.

have a memory or condolence to add?

Gary Saylor

January 29, 2021

Jim will be dearly missed at our weekly cruise in at Wienersnitsel and at car shows. He was a great person to be around and told awesome stories about life. He and my daughter Brandi adored and respected each other despite the big age difference who she referred to as Iowa Jim. Rest in peace my friend.🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻❤️

Jerry Sullivan

January 28, 2021

Jim, Thanks for your leadership in the Iowa Guard as well as the many years on the golf course with Helen and Barb. Thoughts and prayers for you, Helen and family. Always thinking of you. Jerry and Barb Sullivan

Mike Blacksmith

January 28, 2021

Jim was very kind to me and patient with me as a part time employee when I was in college. Very saddened to learn he has passed. My heartfelt condolences to his family.

Jim and Connie Johnson

January 28, 2021

We used to see Jim every once in awhie at the Village Inn n Ankeny. always enjoyed visiting with Jim. Last time I saw Jim was in Hy vee in Ankeny and we blocked the isle talking about kids and grandkids.
So sorry we cant visit with the family at visitation but due to covid and our age and health conditions we feel we have no business in a crowd. Our thoughts and prayers are with you

Jim and Connie Johnson

Louise Johnson

January 27, 2021

So sorry to hear of the passing of Jim. Will miss his friendly wave as I was taking a walk down 1st Street .
Our sympathies goes out to the family.
Louise and Bob Johnson
Ankeny and Mesa, AZ

Kay Huntimer

January 27, 2021

Jim was a friendly neighbor. He did some remodeling work for us when we first moved in 30 years ago. We spotted his Galaxy around town.

Kevin & Cindy Hultman

January 26, 2021

We offer our sincere condolences. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Marlys Johnson

January 25, 2021

We always so enjoyed talking to Jim whenever he drove up to Humboldt for car shows and sometimes just to come up here.
Was in the same class as he was and always thought he was one of the good guys. A good friend.

Bryan Bowman

January 24, 2021

Nelson family you have my deepest sympathy. Jim was a good person. I have a lot of good memories growing up around the Nelson family.

Doug Altman

January 24, 2021

We are saddened to hear about the passing of Jim! He was a classmate from Humboldt 1960. We always enjoyed sharing conversation with him. Our love and prayers to Helen and the family. Doug and Karen Altman