Abner L. Nelson Sr. went to be with his Lord and Savior on Feb. 29, 2012. He was 92 years old. He was born in Kodiak on Dec. 2, 1919, to Alfred Sr. and Irene (Petellin) Nelson. Abner grew up in Afognak village on Kodiak Island, where he completed grammar years of grammar school.
At age 22, he entered into active service in the Army of the United States. After five years of service in Hawaii and Japan, he received an honorable discharge with decorations and citations: the American Defense Service Ribbon with one bronze star, the Good Conduct Medal, Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbon, and a WWII Victory Medal. After serving his term, Abner returned to Afognak where he met Betty Larsen. They were married in Kodiak on May 2, 1948, and enjoyed 63 years of marriage.
Abner was a commercial fisherman and carpenter over the course of his years. He built the family home in Afognak, but had to leave the house after the 1964 earthquake and tsunami devastated the village. Within the next year, villagers relocated to Port Lions, where he joined other men in
He worked for the city of Port Lions for 18 years as water commissioner. With careful maintenance of the water system and monitoring of fluoride levels, Abner played an important role in reducing the cavity rate among children to the lowest level in the state. The U.S. Public Health Service awarded him for outstanding performance as Port Lions water plant operator in 1985. In 2003, the Port Lions City Council, in honor of Abner’s many years of dedicated service as water commissioner, unanimously voted to name the new water dam the Abner Nelson Sr. Water Dam.
Abner loved music and played his guitar “Chet Atkins style,” in his youth at the dance hall in Afognak. In later years, he would play, “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You,” for his wife Betty. Her song to him was “Forever and Ever, Amen.”
Abner is preceded in death by his parents, sister Jessie Nelson, brothers John, Peter, Alfred Jr. and Willis.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 63 years, Betty, his children Gloria (Jerome) Selby, Abner (Marilyn) Nelson Jr., Victoria (Skip) Woodward, Jessica (Norm) Ursin, and Bruce (Amy) Nelson. He also leaves 11 grandchildren, with one on the way, 16 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren; brother Edwin Nelson; sisters Irene (Reggie) Gunderson and Lisa (William) Anderson.
Abner will always be loved by his family and friends and remembered for his gentleness, his giggle, and playing his guitar. He was well respected and well thought of by everyone as a strong pillar of the community.