PHOENIX: (602) 906-9600 | PEORIA: (623) 486-1955

Date of Birth: September 16, 1929

Date of Death: May 09, 2023

Marion Burgess Nelson, our wonderful father, grandfather, great-grandfather, husband, and friend, passed away May 9, 2023 after 93 years of fully lived life. A celebration of his life will be held Saturday, June 17 at 6 p.m. at the home of daughter Marianne and Clark Also. Marion was born in St. George, Utah in September, 1929 to Marion S. and Rachel Burgess Nelson and grew up on a second -generation homestead ranch near Motoqua, Utah. He loved horses, helping his father with ranch work, and always had a cowboy’s heart. Marion graduated from Dixie High School, where he played basketball and was a star on the track team. He served in the U.S. Air Force and was stationed at Forbes Air Field in Topeka, KS where he met his one-and-only, Wanda Lou Gilkison (Nelson), at the Purple Cow Bar in the Hotel Kansas. After Marion’s discharge, Wanda joined him at the Motoqua ranch where they were married. They later moved to Las Vegas, Nevada and Marion became a sheet metal worker, his profession until retirement. They raised a young family of 5 children (4 girls and a boy), first in Las Vegas, then Topeka, Kansas, and finally in Phoenix, Arizona, their home for 51 years. His children always took great pride in sharing with others that their young cowboy father had been a “movie star.” Indeed, he had served as an extra riding his beloved horse, Wasco, in the infamous 1956 movie “The Conqueror,” starring John Wayne and Susan Hayward. Marion and Wanda enjoyed their homes and family life: barbecuing, hosting pool parties and frequent gatherings, celebrating holidays and birthdays. Marion was always handy, working on their cars, maintaining yard and pool, and completing all sorts of home projects from tiling, wallpapering, and decorative ironwork to building bookcases. He thoroughly appreciated Wanda’s gourmet meals, but especially loved homemade bread and cinnamon rolls, popcorn, watermelon, roast beef and mashed potatoes, his glass of iced chardonnay, and desserts with a capital D. One of their first purchases for their home was a stereo, and he was especially fond of Western music but also lots of pop—the Bee Gees, the Beatles, Whitney Houston, and more. As his children began their own families, Marion proved a gentle grandfather and babysitter. After retirement, he and Wanda travelled to Europe twice, as well as visiting grown children who had moved away. He was known in the family as “a hell of a driver” for his ability to drive long distances in getting him and Wanda to various locations. Marion was diagnosed with Parkinson’s several years ago, had to give up driving, and finally resorted to a walker and wheelchair to navigate the house, but he never complained or felt sorry for himself. He set a high bar for those around him as to aging with dignity, optimism, and love. He is survived by his wife, Wanda; children Dianne (Curtis) Oberhansly, Debra Kidwell, Dawna (Craig) Boswell, Richard Nelson, and Marianne (Clark) Also; grandchildren Kristen, Keenan, Ryan, Brenna, Moirin, Angelique, Jillian and step-grandchildren Linsey, Lauren, Daniel, Jessica; great-grandchildren Connor, Oliver, Elora Lyn and step great-grandchildren Stephen, Ella, Brady, Finlay, Berkeley, Tanner, Cora Jane, Oliver; and by niece Jana Bentley Traveller. He is preceded in death by his parents and sister, Maxine Nelson Bentley. Daddy, Dad, Papa, Da, Grandpa, Gorpa, Grandpa Great—you leave a big hole in our hearts and family, but it is with love for you that we will continue and carry your light. The family would especially like to acknowledge Hospice of the Valley for their care and tenderness with Marion during his final days. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to either Hospice Foundation or Parkinson’s Foundation.

Service Information

A Celebration of Life will be held June 17 at 6 p.m. in the home of daughter Marianne and Clark Also.


Hospice Foundation or Parkinson's Foundation.