Cover photo for John William Nelson's Obituary
John William Nelson Profile Photo

John William Nelson

November 18, 1949 — June 11, 2024

Chicago, Illinois


John William Nelson, 74, beloved son, brother, uncle, cousin and friend to many, passed away unexpectedly on Tuesday, June 11, 2024 at his home in Chicago’s North Park. Born on November 18, 1949, John was a legend of a man, whose generosity and kindness knew no bounds. 


John (affectionately known as Big John) leaves behind a legacy of love, humor, and service to others. His nieces, nephews, and young cousins were his entire world as he became a key figure in each of their lives. He was so proud of all of them and, together with the children (many of them now grown up), his family and friends will remember him as an exemplary human being. He embodied the best of qualities: unconditional love, strength of spirit, witty sense of humor, and an unending generosity that could be seen through the many children’s movie nights at his place, his homemade specialty spaghetti dinners, and the unwavering loving care and attention he devoted to each child’s needs. He will be fondly remembered as an entertainer of all with his limericks, stories, and jokes. Even as adults, many of the children whose lives he touched are still waiting to run away to the circus with him, marveling about the frog who jumped into his throat while fishing and thereafter took up permanent residence, wondering about Boom Boom, his mysterious imaginary girlfriend, or even the roaches who lived in his bathtub that he absolutely had to get home to take care of when it was time to leave.


John was a Veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps where he served in Vietnam as a mechanic on an aircraft carrier. His spirit of service to others continued upon his return home as he went on to become a Chicago Police Officer for 30 years, before retiring to become a Nanny (Manny) to his nephew Liam Joseph Manning, and later to Logan Seamus and Luke Hamish Manning as the family grew. This marked the continuation of his legacy as a key figure of unconditional love for all of the children of the family.


John is survived by his sister, Mary Jo Davenport; his nephews and nieces, Jolene (Tim) Manning, Sean (Maddelena), Scott (Jordan), Aaron (Andrea), and Stephanie Davenport, Kevin (Christina) Dandurand, Megan (Gregg) Fibiger, Mary, Pattie (Sean), and Jim Sauve; and his beloved great-nephews and great-nieces, Liam, Logan, and Luke Manning, Molly and Matthew Davenport, Francesca, Gianna, and Maria Jo Davenport, Joshua Pitej, KJ and Marissa Dandurand, Mike and Jack Fibiger, Tammy and Guy McIntyre, Aricka and Amber Ream, Brent, Duane, and Amy Porter; beloved cousins, Cynthia, (Michael), Christine, John (Cheryl), Jessica, Theresa and Mary Anne Benuzzi, Marilyn Melligan, Tom (Betty) Sauve, Janita (Dan) Ream, and Nelson (Glenna) Porter.


Waiting for him at the Door to Heaven were his parents, Clarence and Mary Nelson; his sister, Roberta Dandurand; his brother, Robert Nelson, brothers-in-law, Rodman Davenport and Gary Dandurand, nephews, Keith Davenport and Tommy Sauve, uncles, John McIntyre, John, Harvey, and Russell Nelson, aunts, Margaret Sauve, Hazel Porter, Ruth Schneider, and Aletha Wilson, beloved cousins, Jack and De De McIntyre, Anne McIntyre, Winn Porter, Alice Bowker, and Thomas Melligan, and best friend, Joe Rioux. 


John’s departure comes as a great shock and a deep wound, one that is gravely felt by his entire family and countless others who loved him deeply. His memory will continue to be a beacon of warmth and joy for all who had the pleasure of knowing him. As John prioritized finding joy in life, sharing that joy with others, and generously providing for others’ needs, we can continue to honor him by being there for others no matter what, loving one another unconditionally and spending quality time with one another, and especially with the children in our lives. Services will be held at Davenport Funeral Home, 419 E Terra Cotta Ave, Crystal Lake, IL, on Wednesday, June 19, 2024 at 2:00 pm with visitation starting at 10 am.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John William Nelson, please visit our flower store.

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