Many people knew Lloyd Nelson as the animal control officer for Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, but he had other passions. One of them was softball. It was during a trip to a softball tournament that Nelson, 66, died on Aug. 10.
Kim Talley, co-director of Special Olympics Illinois Region K, said her husband and daughter were at the tournament in the Alton area with Lloyd. Talley said they helped get his truck back to Carbondale.
Lloyd played, coached and umpired softball. He was the organizer of numerous Murphysboro District Park leagues for over 30 years. He coached women’s co-ed Miss-n-Hitters and women’s Hit-n-Misses softball teams for 40 years.
He was the founder of Southern Illinois Select Allstar High School Girls Fast Pitch Softball game. He was vice president of USA/ASA, Director of Men’s D and E State Tournament, and in 2019 was inducted into the USA/ASA State Hall of Fame.
He also was a strong supporter of Special Olympics in Southern Illinois for more than 35 years.
“When I was director for Special Olympics Illinois Region K from 2012 to 2016, Lloyd was one of our key volunteers. He essentially ran our Spring Games at SIU. He’s been doing it since Special Olympics started down here,” Paul Melzer said.
He came out and helped with the indoor softball tournament fundraiser, too, Melzer said.
Melzer said he was really involved, but he did more. He really took time to get to know the athletes.
“We couldn’t have done it without him, that’s for sure. His contributions are second to none,” Melzer said.
“They didn’t have kids, but, boy, have they have a ton of kids -- softball kids and Special Olympics athletes,” Talley said.
Talley added that Nelson also had a talent for decorating at Christmas.
“He was a Christmas decorating guru. Every inch of that house was decorated! Ornaments on the deer antlers, he even decorated the bathroom,” Talley said.
Nelson’s wife Cindy said he decorated every spot in the house, even changing to Christmas toilet paper. “He made Macy’s look like nothing,” she said. “He could be very artistic.”
There are, of course, numerous stories of animals. Lloyd Nelson was an animal control officer for nearly 40 years, and Cindy Nelson was Carbondale’s animal control officer for 30 years.
She said when armadillos first migrated to Southern Illinois, Lloyd received a message on his answering machine from an elderly lady who said she had an armadillo in her flower bed. He thought she was crazy, but agreed to go out there to calm her fears. He told Cindy, “I’ll be damned if I didn’t get out there and an Armadillo burrowing in the flower bed.”
Cindy Nelson said they often assisted each other on animal calls. You cannot predict what an animal will do, so you want to know how the person helping you will react. The couple would have been married 39 years in October.
Talley said Lloyd Nelson had a big heart.
“He was the most kind-hearted man. He was always smiling, always happy,” Cindy Nelson said.
His happy attitude and habit of whistling through the Jackson County Courthouse earned Lloyd Nelson the nickname “Whistler.”
“He loved his job and he loved the people,” Cindy Nelson said.
Plans are in the works for a celebration of life for Lloyd Nelson. Instead of a traditional funeral, there will be a memorial softball game, followed by a gathering at the Moose Lodge in Murphysboro.