Fort Smith High School
Jeff Nelson

After graduating from FSHS, I stayed in college for some nine years. These years started with four years at Texas Western College in El Paso (now UTEP) earning a BS in chemistry. Then four more years at the University of Texas in Austin getting my PhD (also in chemistry) in 1966 – Mr. Grace would have been proud. Then spent another year at UT doing post-graduate work while waiting to be called to active duty in the Army Chemical Corps (I did the ROTC thing at TWC).

While in graduate school, I married Peggy Sue Barksdale from El Paso, and am happy to say that we will be celebrating our 40th in 2003.

While on two years worth of active duty, I was stationed at Harry Diamond Laboratory in the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC (now the Army Research Laboratory). After my release from active duty, I stayed at ARL for another 29 years as a civilian managing battery R&D and later as the laboratory’s Risk Manager (EPA and OSHA compliance management).

I retired in 1997, at which time we moved to our vacation home in the mountains of western Maryland (average annual snowfall of about 10 feet, but really cool in the summer). Having fathered, educated (two degrees each) and married off two daughters who collectively have five children, we get to spend a lot of our time spoiling these five grandchildren.

In retirement, I sometimes wonder how I had time to go to work. I manage to keep myself busy with various organizations – church trustee and treasurer, Lions Club treasurer, homeowners’ association president, board member for the local annual Celtic Festival – and with my lifelong relationship with carpentry. We designed and built most of our vacation home, worked with Habitat for Humanity for several years, and I am currently helping friends built a log home. Even make a few bucks on the side building decks and some furniture.

Jeff Nelson - 2003