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PRINCETON — Richard “Dick” Nelson will always be remembered as a husband, father, grandfather, businessman, inventor, motivator, and a friend, but more importantly, his spirit will live on in the hearts of many.
Richard L. Nelson, who many knew as Dick, died suddenly at age 79 on July 18 at his home.
He was the founder of Nelson Enterprises, which includes Advanced Asphalt Co., TCI Manufacturing and Equipment Sales, Tri-Con Materials LLC, Pavement Maintenance Services Inc., D&J Leasing and AAA Aviation LLC. Nelson also acquired Kory Industries with a group of other investors.
“Besides his family, one of his main concerns was always his employees,” said TCI Manufacturing and Equipment Sales president Mike Maynard. “He knew the value of good employees and understood their contribution helped him to be successful. He always took the time to attend every event he was invited to by his employees, regardless of their position in the company.
“I would hate to guess how many weddings, funerals, graduations, etc., that Dick attended for his employees through the years. If Dick was invited, you could count on him being there.”
Nelson always credited his success to the team who managed his companies and believed his success happened because of the people he surrounded himself with in his business.
He even wrote his own autobiography based on his journey through life and in management “Paving the Road to Success.” It was published in 2011.
“He was always coming up with new ideas,” said Princeton mayor Keith Cain.
“He’d come see me about twice a week and we’d just talk about general business things. My most fond memory was last summer when he was trying to come up with an invention on a grader behind a small utility tractor. Some days it didn’t go well, but he always said he’d conquer it one way or another and now it works pretty good. He was always thinking with his mind. We enjoyed a lot together.”
During his spare time, friends and family say flying and photography were his real passions. He thoroughly enjoyed photographing his many inventions from the air in a helicopter he built in 2004.
“We had many experiences with that machine,” said Chris Kieffer, friend and flying coach to Nelson. “He bought a helicopter kit in 2004 and several of my memories with Dick involved getting this machine ready to fly. The kit came in 10 boxes of crates that were full of parts, an instruction manual and videos. We put about 100 hours in that machine before actually flying it. The drive never stopped with that man.”
The best moment in the helicopter, though, was when Nelson convinced his 96-year-old mother to go for a ride, said Kieffer.
“He was so proud of her the day she got the courage to go in the helicopter he had built,” Kieffer said and laughed.
Maynard sums it up best, “Yes, Dick Nelson was a very complex man with many wonderful qualities. He was a husband, father, grandfather, businessman, inventor, motivator and a friend to many. But most importantly, he was my friend.
“He will be sadly missed by many in the business world and in the community. We will also miss him in our daily business decisions. He was always available to offer his opinion if he was asked and always encouraged us along the way. Most importantly, I will miss Dick Nelson as my friend.”
Services will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 23 at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Princton. Visitation will be from 4-8 p.m. Tuesday, July 22 at Norberg Memorial Home.