Cover photo for Kenneth Wayne Nelson's Obituary
Kenneth Wayne Nelson Profile Photo

Kenneth Wayne Nelson

December 9, 1939 — October 6, 2022


Kenneth Wayne Nelson

Age 82 of Joliet, Illinois and formerly of Wilmington, Illinois, died unexpectedly on Thursday, October 6, 2022 at Ascension St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet.

Born December 9, 1939 in Joliet, Kenneth Wayne was the son of Wayne and Irma (Tenn) Nelson. He was raised and educated in Wilmington and graduated from Wilmington High School with the Class of 1958. Ken attended Quincy University on a Baseball Scholarship before transferring to Lewis University, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. Ken taught math at Assumption Parochial School in Coal City, before returning to Wilmington to work in the family business. It was in 1967, that Ken along with his father transitioned their business which originated with milk, a chicken hatchery, bottled gas delivery, a Maytag dealership and a Royal Blue grocer into Nelson’s Furniture. This new offering in addition to carrying furniture held a Zenith TV dealership, Sherwin Williams Paint and carpeting. Today Nelson’s Furniture continues to be owned and operated by the family going into the fourth generation, a legacy in which Ken was very proud.

Ken loved baseball, was a fan of the Chicago Cubs, and continued to play baseball and softball into his later years on the Merchants Team. He was an avid card player and throughout the years could be found playing cards at The Corner on most afternoons. Ken enjoyed to golf, and took pleasure in traveling out West, particularly to Las Vegas, Flagstaff and Jackson Hole, which were some of his favorite destinations.

Survivors include his wife, Debbie (nee VanGampler), whom he married July 19, 1984; two sons: Steve (Tina) Nelson and Mark Nelson, both of Wilmington; two grandsons: Ryan (Annie) Nelson of Channahon and Aaron (Sami) Nelson of Manhattan; two great granddaughters, Ryanne and Taylee; two sisters: Sis Rodgers of Avondale, Arizona and Barbara Hansen of Wilmington; brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law: Dennis (Cecilia) Rowan of Mundelein, Illinois, Sherrie Wheet of Plainfield, Illinois, Lorrie Harvey of Escondido, California and Al (Toni) VanGampler of Plainfield; many niece, nephews, great nieces and great nephews, and his best friend of many years, John Nunley, as well as his faithful canine companion, Snickers.

Ken was preceded in death by his parents: Wayne and Irma Nelson; two daughters, Julie and Diane, and his father-in-law and mother-in-law, Emanuel and Evelyn VanGampler.

The family will receive friends for a memorial visitation at Baskerville Funeral Home, 700 East Kahler Road in Wilmington on Thursday, October 13, 2022 between the hours of 4:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Funeral services will follow Friday morning, October, 14, 2022 at 11:00 a.m. in St. Rose Catholic Church, 604 S. Kankakee Street in Wilmington. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated with Reverend Sebastian Gargol presiding and Deacon Jay Plese assisting.

Preferred memorials may be made as gifts in Ken’s memory to Kuzma Care Cottage, 635 S. Main Street, Wilmington, IL 60481 or to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (, which was an organization special to Ken’s heart.

Family and friends are encouraged to visit to sign the online guest book, upload photographs and share Ken’s memorial page online through social media.

Cremation services and memorial arrangements have been made under the direction and care of Baskerville Funeral Home in Wilmington. (815-476-2181)

To send flowers to the family in memory of Kenneth Wayne Nelson, please visit our flower store.

Past Services


Thursday, October 13, 2022

4:00 - 8:00 pm (Central time)

Baskerville Funeral Home Wilmington

700 East Kahler Road, Wilmington, IL 60481

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Friday, October 14, 2022

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Central time)


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