Robert “Bob” Nelson

11/25/1946 — 12/27/2022

From Kennewick. WA | Born in Herrington, KS

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Celebration of Life

Tue, February 28, 2023, 12:00 pm
Tue, February 28, 2023, 1:00 pm
Events at Sunset
915 Bypass Highway

Richland, WA 99352

Robert “Bob” Nelson

Robert “Bob” Clifton Nelson, 76, passed away from pancreatic/liver cancer and stroke on Dec. 27, 2022. His wife, Lois Elaine, and son, Phillip, were holding his hands while he found peace and rest with God. He was at home in Kennewick, WA, where he resided since 1995. He was born on 11-25-1946 in Herington, KS to Clayton L. and B. Eileen (Pickett) Nelson. He grew up in Herington helping out at his dad’s barber shop. He graduated from Herington High School in 1964 where he played sax in the marching and dance bands. Bob met Lois through a mutual friend while in their freshman year at Kansas University, each living in a scholarship residence hall. They were married during their junior year on January 29, 1967 (Lois’ birthday). Bob liked to joke that he would never forget her birthday and their anniversary because January 29 was also the day (in 1861) that Kansas became a state!! He graduated with a B.S. from Kansas University in 1968. He was given a direct commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Force and stationed at the university to complete his M.S. in 1969. After being stationed in San Antonio, where their first son, Randall Curtis, was born and Germany, where their second son, Phillip Leonard, was born, he was stationed by the Air Force at KU to complete his PhD, which he was awarded in 1984. All three degrees were from the Dept. of Radiation Biophysics. Bob spent 21+ years in the Air Force, his entire career was in nuclear safety, weapons safety, cruise missile development and facilitating the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s certification of the nuclear reactor at McClellan AFB, Sacramento, CA. He also consulted with NASA on the safety of all launches of deep space probes that required Radioactive Thermoelectric Generators on board for heat. Bob and Lois enjoyed going to Cape Canaveral to watch those launches. Bob retired from the Air Force as Lt. Col. in 1990.

He continued working for various companies in the nuclear industry, until he was recruited by the US Dept. of Energy in 1998 as a nuclear engineer. Bob provided technical leadership in safety and hazard analysis activities to improve safety performance. He was working for DOE at the time of his death. He was a member of the Health Physics Society and the American Nuclear Society.

He was very well-educated, book-wise and experience-wise. He could always be counted on for a lively discussion of current events, politics or his favorite nuclear power field. When he wasn’t doing ‘brain work” for DOE, he enjoyed woodworking, building patio furniture, shelves, etc. or refurbishing and rebuilding his 1976 Jeep CJ7, or reluctantly playing bridge with Lois. His and Lois’ favorite vacations were going on Holland America cruises all over the world, 35 in total. Some of their favorites were several to Alaska and Antarctica and the Baltic Sea.

They have been Tri-City Americans Hockey season ticket holders since 1995; Bob served as Booster Club President. He promoted youth hockey development in the Tri-Cities. For many years, he and his wife Lois (aka -the 50/50 lady) ran the 50/50 raffle at home hockey games, with proceeds going to the Player Education Fund. Bob received the Volunteer of the Year Award from the Tri-City Americans Hockey Club.
They are KU Alumni and avid Jayhawks sports fans and frequently returned to campus for games.

Bob was preceded in death by his parents, four uncles and an aunt. He is survived by wife Lois Elaine of Kennewick; sons Randy (Nohemi) of Rio Rancho, NM and Phillip (Tracy) of Tigard, OR; grandchildren Tamara (Ramon) Murillo, Randall, Jr. (Delane) Nelson, Adrianna Garcia, Amor Jose Gaytan Jaramillo, Christian Nelson and Kyra Nelson; great-grandchildren Adeline and Amoret Murillo, Randall III and Oliver Nelson; sister Sharon (George) Kocher; brother Marcus Nelson; 6 nieces and nephews.

Bob will be cremated. There will be a memorial service at noon on Feb. 28, 2023 at Einan’s at Sunset Gardens, 915 Bypass Hwy, Richland.
Donations may be made to the Tri-City Americans Player Education Fund (non-profit), c/o Tri-City Americans Hockey Club, 7000 W Grandridge Blvd, Kennewick 99336 or Chaplaincy Hospice House, 2108 W Entiat Ave, Kennewick 99336.

Guestbook for

Robert “Bob” Nelson

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  • I highly regarded Bobs expertise and thorough examinations of technical issues throughout the years. We will miss him.

    Ed Westbrook
    March 10, 2023
    Denver, CO
  • I met Bob in the mid-1990s while working in the DOE complex at Hanford, and worked occasionally with him since then. Although I did not know him well personally, I have tremendous respect for Bob and enjoyed when I had occasion to work with him.

    I pray for peace and joy for Bob’s family.

    Gary Gault
    February 28, 2023
    Oak Ridge, TN
  • Will see you again someday! Rest In Peace.

    February 28, 2023
  • We were so sad to hear about the passing of Bob! We miss seeing Bob at the end of our row at the hockey games.

    Niki Cochran
    February 24, 2023
    Richland wa
  • So sad the learn of Bob’s passing. He will now be at peace. Love and prayers for Lois and their family.

    Leslie Nielson
    January 2, 2023
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