PULLMAN, Wash. — Retired Cowlitz County physician Dr. John A. Nelson
received Washington State University’s Alumni Achievement Award Dec. 21
in Longview at a reception that included alumni and friends.
The Longview resident was cited “for six decades of medical service,
community leadership, preservation of forestlands and philanthropy benefiting
his community and alma mater.”
During his active medical practice, he delivered between 1,500 and 2,000
The University of Chicago Medical School graduate began his practice in
Cowlitz County in 1939, earning $290 a month. During World War II, he
provided health care on the Aleutian Island of Attu and helped build the
Alaskan-Canada Highway. At the end of the war, he resumed his medical work,
first on Indian reservations in Montana, before returning to Cowlitz County.
Nelson is a past president of the Washington Farm Forestry Association. His
interest is forestry led him to set up a community trust of 37 acres of mature
timber. Proceeds have been designated to the St. Johns Medical Center
Foundation in Longview, a local church and a community fund.
Nelson grew up on a wheat farm at Tekoa, where his father was a doctor.
Young Nelson enrolled at Washington State College in 1929. He was a member
of Beta Theta Pi fraternity, the college band and the Ham Radio Club. He
completed a degree in general studies in 1933.
Over the years, he has been supportive of WSU activities, including the WSU
Cowlitz County Learning Center on the Lower Columbia College campus in
Longview, and the WSU chapter of Beta Theta Pi fraternity.