Rev. Judson Padgett Nelson, Sr.

Published 5:52 pm Monday, February 13, 2017

The Rev. Judson Padgett Nelson, Sr., of Marietta, Georgia, passed away suddenly on Sunday, February 12, 2017. He was 80 years old.


Padgett was born April 26, 1936, in Sugar Valley, Georgia, the son of Judge Russell “Jud” Nelson and Jennie Belle Padgett Nelson. He attended Sugar Valley School and graduated from Calhoun High School where he was a member of the 1952 state championship football team.


Following high school he graduated from Reinhardt College and LaGrange College. He was ordained as an elder in the Methodist Church.  He graduated from the Candler School of Theology and was ordained as a minister of the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.  In 1973, he received his M.A. in counseling from Long Island University.


During the course of his ministry, Rev. Nelson served a number of Methodist churches across the North Georgia Conference.  In 1966, after receiving a commission as an officer in the United States Army, he went on active duty and served as an Army chaplain for 20 years. As chaplain, he served and ministered at bases in Georgia, Kentucky, Illinois, and Virginia, as well as tours in Germany, Vietnam, and Korea. In recognition of his bravery in helping wounded soldiers during battle, Chaplain Nelson was awarded a Bronze Star With Combat V. Major Nelson retired from the United States Army in 1986.


For the past 5 years, he had served as a volunteer at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Marietta. At Mt. Zion, he was involved with the visitation program, assisted in the leading of worship services, and sang in the choir.


Padgett was an active member of the Sugar Valley Alumni Association and Reinhardt Alumni Group. He will long be remembered for the stories he shared of growing up in “the Valley.”


He is survived by his wife Yvonne Adams Hatcher Nelson and his children Mary Nelson Burdette and Benny of Columbus, Georgia, Judson Padgett “Jay” Nelson, Jr and Beth of Richmond, Virginia, and Stuart Hatcher of Marietta. Padgett is also survived by 4 grandchildren: Benjamin Burdette, Jonathan Burdette, Caitlyn Burdette, Jud Nelson, and two great grandchildren: Connar Beth Burdette and Calynn Rae Burdette. In addition, he is survived by two brothers, Jim Nelson and Annette of Marietta and Ron Nelson and Mary of Johnson City, TN.


Rev. Nelson was preceded in death by his parents Jud Nelson and Jennie Padgett Nelson and by his first wife, Marian Elizabeth Freeman Nelson.


Interment will be on Thursday, February 16 at 3:30 p.m. in Pine Mountain, Georgia.  Services will be held at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church on Friday, February 17 at 11:00 a.m. with a reception to follow.


In lieu of flowers, please send donations in his honor to Mt. Zion United Methodist Church, Reinhardt University, or your local church home.


Rev Nelson will be remembered as a Godly man who lived and shared his faith throughout his life. As written in 1 Peter 3:15, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”