Joseph Elmer Nelson, Jr. (79), formerly from St. Mary’s County, MD passed away on Easter Sunday, April 9, 2023 in Falls Church, VA. He was the son of the late Elmer Nelson and Lucy Brown Nelson of Clements, MD and was preceded in death by an infant son, Joseph Elmer Nelson III.

He was the loving husband of Susie Cheseldine Nelson, and they celebrated fifty-seven blessed years together this past February. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his children Vickie Kanyan (Brian) and Diane Jones (Bill), grandsons Vincent Kanyan (Chelsea) and Zachary Kanyan (Angelica), sister Charlene Bonham (Bill), niece Emily Bonham (Roger Stott), and many loving cousins and friends.

As a young boy, Joe loved to play baseball. As a teenager, he worked at Hurry’s Store and raced cars at Aquasco Speedway. He graduated from Margaret Brent High School in 1961 and left St. Mary’s County to work at Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, VA. For thirty-three years, he worked there for American Airlines, but “you can’t take the country out of the boy,” and St. Mary’s County was always dear to his heart. Holidays were spent returning to St. Mary’s County to celebrate with family, and many Thanksgivings included hunting with his father, uncles and cousins before a big family gathering at his grandmother’s house.

In addition to hunting with family and friends, Joe’s other hobbies included planting and tending to his vegetable garden, boating in Benedict, MD with his wife Susie, and fishing. He also enjoyed woodworking and spent many hours in his woodshop building furniture and working on projects with his beloved grandsons.

One of Joe’s favorite memories was celebrating his 60th birthday at Nationals Park surrounded by his family and sitting behind Nolan Ryan, who autographed a baseball for him while the Nationals played the Texas Rangers.

The family will receive friends on Friday, April 14, 2023 from 9:00am – 10:30am at Mattingley-Gardiner Funeral Home in Leonardtown, MD. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:00am at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Morganza, MD with Father Andrew Royals officiating. Interment will follow at Charles Memorial Gardens in Leonardtown, MD.

Serving as pallbearers will be Brian Kanyan, Vincent Kanyan, Zachary Kanyan, and Kevin Kanyan. Honorary pallbearers will be Bill Jones, Bill Lawrence, and Marty Cosgrove.

Flowers are welcome or in lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the American Red Cross of the National Capital & Greater Chesapeake Region, 8550 Arlington Blvd., Fairfax, VA 22031, or online at, or to a charitable organization of your choice.

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