Roger D. Nelson, 67, of Merrill, passed into Eternal Life on May 6, 2014 at Ministry St. Clare’s Hospital in Weston.
He was born on September 28, 1946 in Merrill, the son of the late Melvin Roy Nelson and June (Severt) Nelson-Downing. 
Roger grew up on a farm.  From a very early age, he loved driving tractors and eventually, became the proud owner of a John Deere.   Following graduation from Merrill Senior High School in 1964, his love of agriculture took him to the University of Wisconsin – River Falls where he obtained a degree in Agriculture Management and Accounting.  Roger was a US Army Veteran, serving his country during the Viet Nam War at Fort Hood, Texas and at JusMag/MacThai, in Bangkok, Thailand.  Following his military duty, Roger worked in the agriculture community first as a manager of a co-operative and then for Midwest Credit, where he helped co-operatives in the Midwest and Western United States establish credit procedures and policies.  After years of moving around, he and his family eventually returned to Merrill, to live in the home his grandparents had built and lived in and also his parents.
The return to Merrill also brought about a career change for Roger. In 1988, he went to work for Sentry Insurance and retired in 2007. After retirement, and not being one to sit idle, Roger found a part-time job driving school bus for Peterson Bussing. A job he truly loved.  With his gentle, compassionate nature, Roger was well suited to driving and being responsible for special needs students. 
Roger enjoyed “puttering” in his yard, driving his John Deere hauling rocks for his wife to build flower beds with, maintaining a manicured lawn, and preparing the soil every spring in anticipation of planting a vegetable garden or just giving his grandchildren innumerable rides around the yard.  Roger was a Master Gardener and volunteered as a “gardener” for Park City Gardens.  He also enjoyed taking his boat out on the Wisconsin River where he spent many hours as a boy.  Every summer, he looked forward to having a special pontoon weekend with his family and letting his grandchildren sit on his lap to help him steer the boat.  He was a Rotarian and was a past president of the Merrill Rotary Club.  He was a member of the Eagles Fraternal Organization and served as a trustee.  He was an alumni of Theta Chi Fraternity.  He was a member of St. Stephen’s Church in Merrill, where he had served as an usher and had helped with confirmation classes and youth retreats.  Roger was respected for his thoughtfulness and integrity.
Roger is survived by his beloved wife Mari (Haas) whom he married on June 10, 1967, and his children:  Doni (Eric) Cornett, Minneapolis, MN and Michael Roy Nelson, Merrill.  A loving grandpa, Roger was “Papa” to Wesley, Collin and Sheridan Cornett, Braiden and Izabella Nelson. 
Roger is further survived by his dad Arthur Downing, Sr., his sister Nancy (Nelson) Priebe, his brothers, Arthur “Bud” (Karen) Downing, Jr., Ted (Marian) Downing, and Chris Downing, his aunt, Virginia Severt, and brother-in-law, Michael Haas as well as numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.  
He was preceded in death by his parents M. Roy Nelson and June Nelson-Downing, his in-laws Otto and Doris (Schenk) Haas, his sister Nancy Beth (Downing) Laabs, brother-in-laws Myron Laabs and Patrick Priebe, sister-in-laws Sheryl Downing and Barbara Haas, uncles Arlo Nelson and Matt Severt, and aunt Dorothy Nelson.
A memorial service will be held on Friday, May 9, 2014 at St. Stephen’s Church in Merrill.  Visitation at the church will begin at 10 o’clock AM, followed by the service at 11 o’clock AM.  Rev. Kyle Carnes will officiate.  Interment will be in the Gleason Cemetery, Gleason, Wisconsin.
Memorials may be given in Roger’s name to the Merrill Rotary Club, St. Stephen’s Church, or to Park City Gardens.  Waid Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.  Online condolences may be made at
The family would like to thank the staff at the Marshfield Clinics in Merrill, Weston and Wausau and the staff at St. Clare’s Hospital for the care Roger received.  They would also like to express special  appreciation for the compassion shown by Dr. Donald Evans, Dr. Rezwan Islam, and Dr. David Polomis,  their nurses, Ministry Home Healthcare, specifically Deb DuFrame and his special friends, Jim and Denise Severt for their unwavering support and help during the past two years.