Torvall Leroy Nelson
Torvall Leroy Nelson
  • December 2, 1917 - January 3, 2018
  • Annandale, Virginia

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Died peacefully at his home in Annandale, VA, January 3, 2018. Born in Ogden, UT on December 2, 1917, under the covenant, to Peter Leroy and Pearl Laub Nelson (both predeceased) and had 3 younger sisters, Helen, Virginia, and Evelyn (all predeceased). He attended Weber College, UT; Utah State University, University of Utah, UCLA, and BYU. With a double major in biology/zoology and minors in math/drafting/forestry, he taught high school Science, but went on to achieve a professional engineering degree in 1947. His professional life included work at Lockheed in CA during WWII on the Hudson Bomber and designing and building aircraft parts. His next work was at U.S. Steel in Geneva, UT designing blast furnaces, open-hearth, rolling mill, railroads and utilities. Next he went to Lockheed Missile and Space Div. CA working on the Polaris Missile, submarine filtering systems, etc. He went back to U.S. Steel at Pittsburg Works near Napa valley, CA as project engineer over several multi-million dollar projects. Then life took him to Middletown, OH where he did design work for Kaiser Engineering on a $600M project of rebuilding Armco Steel Making Facilities. Other jobs included Naval Ships Engineering at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC; Arizona State Highways; a hydroponic venture; building an apartment complex in Mesa, AZ and he wound up back in Washington, DC working for GAO as an Evaluator examining contracting, building and acquisition of government buildings where he worked for 20 years and retired at the age of 74.

He had a passion for life with his many interests. He did a lot of volunteer work for the JayCees in UT, ambulance worker in Orem, and in his church callings through the years. He enjoyed being a Kena Klown in VA for 15 yrs. going to parades, events and birthday parties where he was a natural clown with his keen sense of humor, giving smiles and laughs to the many people he met, along with many a balloon animal! During four of his college years, he worked summers in Yellowstone National Park, cooking in the West Yellowstone Dining lodge. A train came by dropping people off in the morning for breakfast at the lodge, then off to sightseeing all day returning for dinner at the lodge and boarding the train for their return trips. He enjoyed cooking, trying new recipes, and typed up several books of recipes in his retirement years. He had many fond memories of Yellowstone and stories to relate often. Also during college days, he became a black belt in Karate, and enjoyed boxing. He said being smaller in stature that he often had to defend himself!

In the several years he taught the Dale Carnegie class in VA, he taught many people how to improve their memories as well as "winning friends and influencing people." With his memory pegs, he could remember a list of 100 items. Most people will remember his story telling, whether it was history of his parents, grandparents, some other historical event or something from his many varied experiences. He had a love of nature, and even in his older age knew all of the scientific names of the trees, sometimes forgetting the common names. On walks he would observe the smallest of moss or fern plants and often spoke of the beautiful trees in Virginia. His hobby after retiring was feeding the birds (up to 200 in the summer), squirrels, chipmunks, and any other animal coming to join in like the deer coming down from the woods, a skunk family, raccoon, possum and rabbits. In his 70s and 80s, he used bamboo sticks he made for daily walks all around the Annandale, VA area. People knew him from his red jacket and orange NRA hat he wore, not forgetting the bib overalls he loved to wear. When younger, he enjoyed hunting with his sons, more for food than sport. In later years he limited shooting to a shooting range, sharing with sons, daughters and grandkids.

In addition to his love of aircraft, especially the WWII vintage, he enjoyed the older trains and had many stories of them. He often wrote of experiences and passions through poetry. He had a love of music as well, playing violin as a child, and later in life the organ until computers pre-empted that interest. He took all of the computer classes he could through his work and enjoyed emailing family and friends up to age 95 when he had more difficulty seeing the pages.

He was a role model to his children over the years, and as a mentor imparted wisdom, humor, logic, love of nature, family history, life experiences and shared many laughs. As is true in life, some of this wisdom was not appreciated until later in the lives of those he touched.

He is survived by his wife of the last 35 years, Dolores Ruth Henrich and her children: Sara J. Caltrider, William L. Dunn, Jr., Andrew J. Dunn and David D. Nelson (whom he adopted and they raised together). Other Children include Lyndall Nelson (deceased), Steven Leroy Nelson, Linda Rae Nelson Clark, Carole Ann Nelson Jensen, David Earl Nelson, Trudy Lee Nelson Ovard from his first marriage to Betty Rae Wilkinson (deceased); and Lorna Atkin and Robert W. Nelson from his second marriage to Elaine Crowther. He also leaves 25 grandchildren and over 30 great-grandchildren.

When he was a Kena Klown, Torvall donated all funds to Shriners Hospital for Children, so in lieu of flowers, please donate to the Shriners Hospital for Children at, or if you prefer, any charity of your choice.