LaVern M. Nelson

April 16, 1930 ~ December 29, 2018 (age 88)


LaVern Nelson of Madison passed away at home on Dec 29, 2018 surrounded by family.  He will be greatly missed.

 Vern was born in April of 1930 and raised on a Wisconsin farm just north of Rio township by his parents: Olai & Mildred Nelson. He joined the Army in 1947 and was stationed in Manheim, Germany with the 66th Maintenance Battalion; 531st Ord Co, where he met Constance Schneider of Astoria, New York while she was visiting relatives, later to become engaged. Shortly after his military discharge in Dec of 1951, he and Connie were married on March 1st, 1952 and later moved to Madison to settle and prosper.

Vern worked at City of Madison Water Department since the early 50’s, arising to the position of Chief Operations Manager and retiring with 40 years of service. La Vern was one of 5 city department heads, along with then Business Agent Gaylord Nelson (later U.S. Senator), who helped negotiate and participated in establishing Madison’s employment relations platform through A.F.S.C.M.E., as a Union shop. He also took pride of his management efforts upon retiring from Madison’s Water Department, saying Madison’s artesian water system quality was one of the best around, and economical to boot.

He became a lifetime-time member in 1999 with the Madison Retriever Club and was instrumental in helping a group of members purchase the Oregon & Stoughton club lands and facilities. He spent much of his retirement following the National Retriever Field Trial dog circuit where he helped train, compete and judge many sanctioned and unsanctioned trials.  Vern spent many years with his Labrador Retriever companions who aided with his love of hunting ducks, geese and pheasants.  He spent additional free time hunting deer, supplemented by intense bouts of fishing Lake Perch in Lake Mendota, Walleyed Pike from the Mississippi tributaries near Ferryville, WI, and Lake Trout from his annual spring expeditions to Ontario, Canada.

Vern is survived by his children Robert Nelson of Packwaukee, WI; Patty Nelson Alt and husband Mike Alt of Ironton, WI, Carol Nelson of Baraboo, WI, his two younger brothers Duane Nelson of Rio, WI and Charles (Susan) Nelson of Pittsburgh, PA, his aunt Marion Hendrickson of Wisconsin Dells, WI, in addition to many cousins, nieces and nephews.  Vern had one granddaughter Anna (Nelson) Archer, married to Brandon Archer of Portland, OR.  He was preceded in death by his wife Connie on September 21, 2015, and more recently by sister-in-law Shirley Nelson in 2018.

A celebration of life gathering will be held in remembrance of LaVern on Saturday, January 26, 2019 for friends and family at Kavanaugh’s Esquire Club in Madison located at 1025 N. Sherman Ave. from noon-3 p.m. Donations can be made to the Madison Retriever Club in lieu of gifts or flowers.

To view and sign this guestbook, please visit:

Ryan Funeral Home & Cremation Services

2418 N. Sherman Avenue


To send flowers to LaVern's family, please visit our floral store.


Celebration of Life
January 26, 2019

12:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Kavanaugh's Esquire Club
1025 N Sherman Ave
Madison, WI 53704

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