Jack Melvin Nelson Jr.

June 15, 1944December 17, 2020

Larger than life with a gentle, generous heart; that is how our dad, Jack, will be remembered. On December 17th, our dad, brother, grandpa, uncle, cousin, and cherished friend passed away peacefully at Saint Agnes Hospital. He was surrounded by his children, and through the magic of FaceTime, his brother, sister, and grandchildren.

Jack was born in Louisville, Kentucky on June 15, 1944 to his parents Inese and Jack Nelson. He was the first of three children. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to Chowchilla. Jack attended local schools and graduated from Chowchilla Union High School in 1962. As a young boy he had his own paper route. He loved spending time with his Grandpa and Grandma Rusho. Some of his earliest and fondest memories were fishing and hunting trips with his grandpa, dad, and brother. During his high school years he was a stand-out wrestler and football player. He held a school rushing record for 28 years.

After high school, Jack married Candy Walter and together they raised three children; Mark, Holly, and Jacqueline. As a father, his message was clear; work hard, tell the truth, follow through, and be respectful to self and others. He enjoyed trips with his family to Disneyland, Colorado, Wyoming, and camping at Mammoth Pools and Granite Creek.

Jack always maintained his love of sports and went on to coach Pop Warner football and high school football from 1977 - 1989. Under his leadership, his teams earned several championship titles. His players were like family, most earning a special nickname, whether they liked the name or not. After hanging up his coach’s hat, he continued his presence on the football field, this time as a member of the “chain gang.”

He was a “Jack of all trades” working as a welder, well driller, and finally taking over the family business, Jack’s Radiator. He spent 30 years running Jack’s Radiator shop, making it one of the longest running family owned businesses in town. In retirement, he reinvented himself as a successful almond farmer. Throughout Jacks’ life he had many passions and favorite pastimes. His love of horses, given to him by his mother, drew him to the sport of team roping. Back in the day, he could also be found shooting trap at the local trap shoot and bowling with his buddies in a local bowling league. He enjoyed Cajun cooking and restoring vintage cars. He loved reading western novels, watching western movies, studying his ancestry, and above all hunting and fishing with family and friends.

Jack’s Radiator was more than a business with a long standing history, it was a place for friends to gather. If you ever had the privilege of experiencing it in person, you would surely know the cast of characters were colorful. The friendships made lasted a lifetime.

To know Jack was to love Jack. It was almost a given he would greet you by any other name than your own. His choice of nicknames varied, but “you old hussy” and “potlicker” were the two that stuck most often. Not only did he have a nickname for everyone, he too had an expression for every situation. His goodbyes were usually phrased with “don’t do anything I wouldn’t do” or “If you can’t be good, don’t get caught.”

Jack was preceded in death by his parents Inese and Jack Nelson Sr. He is survived by his children Mark and girlfriend Minnie of Pleasanton, Holly Orr of Murfreesboro Tennessee, and Jackie Ross and husband Frank of Chowchilla. He is also survived by his grandchildren; Carson Ross and wife Lauren, Clayton Ross, Carter Ross, and Chimera Skaggs and his soon-to-be-born great granddaughter. He is also survived by his brother, Ernie Nelson (Emily) of Chowchilla and sister, Julie Nelson (Gina) of Talent, Oregon along with nieces and nephews.

We want nothing more than to experience the love and friendship of our family and friends, to be able to hug and shake hands, to be consoled, and celebrate the life of our Dad; however, a private graveside service will be held on December 31st for the immediate family. A celebration of life is in the planning for a safe, summer-time date, so get those Jack stories ready.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the charity of the donor’s choice.


  • Jack Nelson Sr., Father (deceased)
  • Inese Nelson, Mother (deceased)
  • Mark Nelson (Minnie), Son
  • Holly Orr, Daughter
  • Jackie Ross (Frank), Daughter
  • Carson Ross (Lauren), Grandchild
  • Clayton Ross, Grandchild
  • Carter Ross, Grandchild
  • Chimera Skaggs, Grandchild
  • Ernie Nelson (Emily), Brother
  • Julie Nelson (Gina), Sister
  • Many, Nieces and Nephews


Jack Melvin Nelson Jr.

have a memory or condolence to add?

Betty Martinez

January 5, 2021

I remember when I met Jack he a sweet and funny man. My great memory of him is when he made the best deep-fried turkey I ever tasted! My condolences and prayers to family

Kay Warren

December 26, 2020

I never met Mr. Jack, but he friended my dad, Roy Parrish, when he would visit family in California. Daddy always talked fondly of Mr. Jack and their fishing trips.
I am very sorry to hear of his passing.
My dad earned his wings on September 6th of this year. Sure they are plotting another fishing trip.
God bless this family.

Larry and Barbara Faust

December 24, 2020

The fun and adventures of our hauling hay together are still very memorable in my mind. We played football in high school and also at Reedley College. Those were the good ole days. He will be missed. My nick name was always "Shorty, or ugly" depending on how he felt that day. We will miss him. God bless his family.

Larry and Barbara Faust