Born, Oct. 7, 1945, in Akron, he was a son of Nelson and Stella Thornhill.
After graduating from Springfield High School, Nelson entered the Air Force Sept. 26, 1965. His bravery during the Vietnam War earned him a number of accommodations including the Purple Heart.
He returned home to Akron after retiring from the Air Force, where he worked at historic Sparkle Market managing produce and stock for over 32 years. During this time, Nelson met the love of his life, Darcy, whom he wed May 10, 1986. Together with daughter, Wendy, they cultivated his love for the outdoors and motorsports. If not at the store, Nelson could be found tending to his gardens or feeding the birds. On Sundays, he’d be clothed in ‘Rusty Wallace’ attire and primed for racing.
Retiring in late 2013, Nelson lived the remainder of his life relaxing alongside a campfire adjacent to Leesville Lake. He spent most of his days enjoying his wife, family and friends, often entertaining his granddaughters while teaching them to fish.
He is survived by his wife, Darcy Thornhill; sister, Betty VanFossen; brother-in-law, Karl Kraus; sister-in-law, Rebecca Kraus; daughter, Wendy (Tony) Burgoyne; granddaughters, Madaleyna Violet, Sophia Rose, and Ava Ann Burgoyne; and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Donald and Michael Thornhill; and brothers-in-law, Terry Crislip and John VanFossen.
Friends will be received between 3 and 5 p.m. Monday with the presentation of the flag and funeral service immediately following at Hennessy Funeral Home (corner of York and Main) 552 N. Main St., Akron. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Carroll County Animal Protection League at http://www.gofundme.com/6tzzjg