Nelson died at age 80 in Sioux Falls. His lifelong association with basketball included an outstanding playing career at Brookings High School, from which he graduated in 1954, and the University of South Dakota. His contributions as USD’s starting center helped the Coyotes win the NCAA College Division national championship in 1958 in Evansville, Ind.
Nelson later coached at Fort Pierre, Colman, Onida, West Central, Flandreau, Canova and Deubrook. And for several decades he was among the region’s most respected referees.
A tireless supporter of the game, Nelson enjoyed and appreciated basketball at all levels. He was a regular spectator at prep and collegiate gyms throughout the area. Nelson was inducted into the South Dakota High School Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011. He also served the organization as a past member of its board of directors.