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Clifford D. "Cliff" Nelsen(1927 - 2013)

Nelsen, Clifford Davis "Cliff", 85, of the Ocean Reef Club, Key Largo Florida, passed away peacefully on July 22, 2013 at home after a brief illness. The younger of two sons, Cliff was born on August 30, 1927 in Des Plaines, Illinois, to Daniel Bertram Nelsen, and Loretta Althea Nelsen (nee Davis). Cliff graduated from Maine Township High School in 1945 and The Illinois Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science in Metallurgical Engineering in 1950. Upon Graduation, Cliff joined the Merchant Marine and served on a number of ships in the Caribbean. In 1954, Cliff joined the crew of the Arctic exploration vessel "Schooner Bowdoin" (Captained by Admiral Donald B. Macmillan) as Chief Engineer for its final expedition. He also served as photographer, and as a reporter for the Des Plaines Suburban Times, chronicling the expedition for the newspaper. Ironically, while reporting on the expedition, Cliff's editor was none other than Cleon Fulle, whom he would marry in 1955. Cliff joined the family business "Nelsen Steel and Wire Company", joining his father, Daniel, and his brother Daniel Jr. Cliff moved through the ranks of the company, becoming President in 1967, until his retirement in 1994 as Chairman. At the time of his death, he continued to serve as the company's Chairman Emeritus. Cliff served as a City of Des Plaines Alderman, chairing its Police Committee. In Washington DC, Cliff served on the Commerce Department's Industry Sector Advisory Committee 7, which advised the Secretary of Commerce on trade matters. He was also on the board of Des Plaines National Bank, Plaines Bank, and Roberts Industries. Cliff's professional affiliations included the Cold Finished Steel Bar Institute (Chairman), The Steel Service Center Institute (Life Member), the Farm and Industrial Equipment Institute (Auxiliary Member Chairman), the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association (Associate Member Chairman), the American Iron and Steel Institute, The Young Presidents' Organization, the World Presidents' Organization, the Chief Executive Organization, The Economic Club of Chicago, the World Business Council and the Illinois Manufacturers Association. Cliff was a member of the Ocean Reef Club, The Ocean Reef Yacht Club, The Key Largo Anglers Club, The Barrington Hills Country Club, the Chicago Yacht Club, the Hundred Club of Cook County, and the Hundred Club of Monroe County. An avid yachtsman, Cliff led many Ocean Reef Yacht Club trips to the Bahamas during his retirement, and led the organization as its Commodore in 2000-2001. Cliff was also an accomplished fisherman, big game hunter, beekeeper, baker, skier and candle maker. Cliff is survived by his wife of 58 years, Cleon Delores Nelsen (nee Fulle) "Lee"; their four children, Christina (Straw), C. Davis, Carol (Maurice), and C. Daniel; and 11 grandchildren. A memorial is being planned for late fall, and will be announced in the near future. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to: The Ocean Reef Club Medical Center Foundation, 50 Barracuda Lane, Ocean Reef Club, Key Largo FL, 33037, or the Hospice of the Florida Keys, 92001 Overseas Highway, Tavernier FL, 33070.

Published in Chicago Sun-Times on July 25, 2013
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