Scott Nelson, ‘blue ribbon’ dad
Updated: July 15, 2012 3:13PM
Scott Nelson started to choke up a bit. Fatherhood was the topic of discussion and up to that point the River Forest dad had mostly been discussing his own parenting.
But then he paused for a moment, as if he were thinking about what to say next. Everything he knows about being a father he learned from his dad, Wayne Nelson.
“I hadn’t recently thought about my father as much as I just did in the 10 minutes before I called you,” Scott Nelson said. “The whole reason this phone call is taking place is because of him.”
When the Forest Leaves contacted the River Forest Public Library — a good source for all kinds of information — and asked if anybody knew a local, sort of model dad for a Father’s Day profile, Library Director Sophia Anastos said, hands down, Scott Nelson.
Nelson, she explained, and his five children — Kiley, 15; Allie, 14; Maeve, 12; Grace, 6; and John, 4 — have been regulars at the library for years.
“He’s a really devoted parent and wants to make sure that they read,” Anastos said.
Nelson confirmed this.
It’s important that his children are well-read and articulate, he said; this is one of the reasons he spends so much time with them at the library.
But they also ride bikes together, go to the zoo, play sports and all kinds of other activities.
Nelson’s wife, Ellen, called him the “adventure dad.”
But there’s also sentimental value in their regular trips to the library. There’s a memorial tree dedicated to Nelson’s father, located on Lathrop and Chicago avenues. Wayne Nelson died in 2004.
“Part of going to the library is going to that tree … to have a chat,” Nelson said. “I was very fortunate to have a father like him.”
Scott Nelson has been a dad for over a decade, but he still credits his father for teaching him the fundamentals of parenting.
“He did whatever it took for the family,” Nelson recalled. “He worked hard to make sure the family had what it needed. The old school way.”
Wayne worked long hours as a milkman, a gig Nelson would work later when he assumed control of his father’s dairy service. For a time they worked side-by-side.
Nelson said his father was a warm, humble man, but also possessed a certain grit that is hard to come by today.
Once, Wayne broke his hand but refused to put it in a cast because it would interfere with him operating the milk truck’s manual stick shift.
“He did whatever it took,” Nelson said.
As a parent, Nelson has followed suit, Ellen said.
“When the kids were born we said we’d do whatever it took to keep the two of us as their primary caregivers,” she said.
And that’s how the cookie has crumbled.
Nelson is at home with his kids in the morning, until Ellen gets home from work, and takes over. From there, he heads to Broadview to give lessons at his Strikes Baseball clinic.
He’s a former minor league pitcher, who spent time in the AA farm systems of the San Francisco Giants, Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers.
As gritty and humble as his dad, Nelson would drive a milk truck in the winter, during the offseason.
A few years back he sold the company, and opened Strikes. The baseball school, which doesn’t open until 3 p.m., allows him to split time between work and his family.
But even when he’s at home, Nelson’s hard at work focusing on his kids. Take his plans for Father’s Day, as an example.
Asked what if any plans the family had for Nelson, Ellen laughed and said they would be down in Kentucky to watch a softball tournament that their daughter Maeve is competing in.
“He absolutely does get a blue ribbon,” Ellen said, with a laugh.