James K. Brady Nelson was born on December 23, 1927 in Waco, Texas, the younger brother by 4 years of Sophia Ann, to Thelma Brady Nelson and Victor Magnus Nelson. Stamford, Texas became his second home when he lived there as a boy while his father worked WPA construction during the depression. Jim made many life-long friends, rode horses, and met his future brother-in-law before the family settled at the boundary of Bryan and College Station, Texas near Texas A&M University.
Jim attended Texas A&M from the summer of 1945 until graduating with Bachelor’s degrees in petroleum and mechanical engineering in 1950. He became a Ross Volunteer, cadet lieutenant colonel, senior class secretary/treasurer and editor of The Battalion student newspaper. After his service as a 2nd lieutenant in the US Air force, Jim started working as a rough neck in the oil field.
Jim had heroes all his life. First his parents, Vic and Thelma, then his sister Sophia and later his brother–in–law, Bland Harrison. He especially admired professors at Texas A&M, Charlie Crawford, Harold Vance, Bert Stevens, Bob Whiting, and Dr. Roland Bing, Jr. who shaped the direction of his life.
Roger Wolf, founder and President of Grey Wolf Drilling Company, became boss, friend, and then partner before Jim became president and owner of Grey Wolf Drilling Company in 1978. His achievements in drilling and rig development were recognized nationally and internationally. After he retired in 1997, Mr. Nelson established Felicity Ventures where he worked with an esteemed group of accountants and lawyers, another set of Jim Nelson’s heroes, for investment and venture capital business.
Jim Nelson married Audrey Calais, a successful South Louisiana “land man” with wit and beauty, on July 30, 1960 in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana and became a part of her lively family. He and Audrey shared many friends in the oil business and established a beautiful home and garden together in Houston’s Memorial area. His beloved wife, Audrey, died on April 25, 2013, after many years of complicated health problems and chronic pain.
Felicia Cecile was born on March 23, 1967, a long awaited child and beloved daughter.
Jim admired and enjoyed Felicia’s interests and talents as she pursued Spanish language study, mastered computers, flew her Piper Saratoga, raised and trained Great Pyrenees dogs, managed her home and farm outside Bastrop, and became a student of the Bible in her own right.
Ofelia Galvan began to work for Mr. Nelson on April 24, 1986 and became a trusted confidant in business and life. He came to depend upon her to manage the office as well as his personal and professional calendars, even to organize the famous Nelson Christmas Party. Mr. Nelson was often heard to say: “Call Ophie about that.”
A life-long Baptist, Jim was a member of River Oaks Baptist Church where he treasured his Sunday School Class and Bible study, the preaching and music, along with a friendship with Pastor Martus Miley and his wife, Jeannie Miley, teacher and writer. St. Cecilia Catholic Church and the A&M Catholic Student Center enrichened his spiritual and religious life.
Jim and Edna Earle Mattei married on February 28, 2015. Two people, with common spiritual values, a parallel history at Texas A&M and in the oil business, and the spark of attraction and wit, found each other after each had a satisfying, lifelong marriage and family.
Jim Nelson was an ardent Aggie, supporting football and athletics but also academics. He never missed a home game at Kyle Field and traveled to many. He created many Aggie connections and scholarships for family and friends. He made contributions of time, thinking and financial donations to organizations and institutions that were important to him.
Jim was a rare and generous intellect. He read widely but particularly in the history of the world and the thinking of great political leaders like Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill. He could discuss every book and author as if they were a part of his life. In a way, they were. It was in 2021, when he could no longer recall in such rich detail, that Jim knew that his memory was beginning to fail. The graciousness and determination with which he approached failing health were witness to his character and faith.
The family and friends who were special to Jim are too numerous to list.
Jim Nelson is survived by his daughter, Felicia Cecile Nelson; wife, Edna Earle Mattei Nelson and her children, Braden Mattei and Karyn Saucedo; and by brother-in-law, William Bland Harrison, Jr. Nieces and nephews who survive their beloved uncle are Victoria Harrison, William Bland (Dub) Harrison III, Ricky Patin, Jr., Marie Patin Trahan, Cecile Patin Guidry, Tony Patin, Billy Patin, Tina LeBlanc Sadoski, Todd Andrus, Winn Andrus, Jr. and their spouses and children and grandchildren. Other family and friends who were special to Jim are too numerous to list.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Victor and Thelma Nelson; his sister, Sophia Ann Harrison; his first wife, Audrey Calais Nelson, and many of her family.
Pallbearers are: William B. Harrison III, Thomas Frederick (Ricky) Patin, Jr., Keith Anthony (Tony) Patin, William (Billy) Patin, Michael Todd Andrus, Erwin Charles (Winn) Andrus, Jr.
Honorary Pallbearers include: Ofelia C. Galvan, W. B. Harrison, Bud Hagner, Fred Lee Hughes, James D. Tittle, Robert W. Scott, Robert W. Vacek, Adrian Ryan Guzman, Ed Sadoski, Jay Wehnert, Jimmy Gray, Donald Raymond Henderson
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.memorialoaksfunerals.com for the Nelson family.
William B. Harrison III
Thomas Frederick (Ricky) Patin Jr.
Keith Anthony (Tony) Patin
William (Billy) Patin
Michael Todd Andrus
Erwin Charles (Winn) Andrus Jr.
Ofelia C. GalvanHonorary Pallbearer
W, B, HarrisonHonorary Pallbearer
Bud HagnerHonorary Pallbearer
Fred Lee Hughes Honorary Pallbearer
James D. Tittle Honorary Pallbearer
Robert W. Scott Honorary Pallbearer
Robert W. Vacek Honorary Pallbearer
Adrian Ryan GuzmanHonorary Pallbearer
Ed Sadoski Honorary Pallbearer
Jay WehnertHonorary Pallbearer
Jimmy Gray Honorary Pallbearer
Donald Raymond Henderson Honorary Pallbearer