David A. Nelson

1933 ~ 2023

Obit Photo David Nelson

  Captain David Nelson, age 89, died January 14, 2023 in Burien, Washington. Dave was born in Glendale, California on August 16, 1933, to Horace Andrew and Ilene Weller Nelson. He was the oldest of three siblings. Dave’s father was a distributor for Hodaka Motorcycle Co., the manufacture of the famed Indian Motorcycle.

   David grew up and attended high school in Glendale, CA. As a student he was described as ‘active,’ participating in high school football and the Golden Gloves boxing program. After high school he completed two years at Glendale Community College, while continuing to actively pursue football and boxing.

Obit Photo David Nelson 1    With the two years of college required for application, Dave was accepted into the USN Naval Aviation Cadet program (NAVCAD). Primary flight training was at NAS Pensacola followed by multiengine at NAS Hutchinson Kansas. Most of his military flight training was in the SNJ and SNB aircraft. David was awarded his commission and wings in 1955. He thereafter flew a variety of multi-engine aircraft with the fleet. He served at NAS North Island at Coronado, CA and was deployed to NAS Agana in Guam where he often piloted target towing aircraft.


   David was released from the active Navy in the late summer of 1958, which permitted him to begin employment with Northwest Airlines on October 30, 1958. He started his airline career as a copilot on the DC-4, DC-6, DC-7, and then came the jet transition to the Boeing 707 series. David flew the line for two years as a Boeing 720/320 copilot before completing his initial captain upgrade on the 720/320 series. Thereafter he qualified as captain on the McDonald Douglas DC-10 and the Boeing 747 classic. David retired from NWA as a 747 classic captain.


    David raised two boys from a previous marriage. Rick was born in 1956 and Robert in 1960. He was based in Minneapolis for three years and then transferred permanently to Seattle. During his periods of layoff at NWA, Dave worked as a longshoreman on the docks of Seattle and Tacoma.

   On December 31, 1977, David married NWA Flight Attendant Holly Elwell Kloenne. However, prior to their wedding day they entered the wine business together.

Obit Photo David Nelson 2From Winemaker Notes – Wine.com:

“David and Holly Nelson got involved in the wine business after purchasing their first 65-acre vineyard from the owner of Korbel Champagne Cellars in 1977. They enjoyed growing Russian River Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes for Korbel for many years, and finally got bitten by the "wine bug." After taking a few classes at U.C. Davis, they started experimenting with homemade wine in the basement of their English Tudor Seattle home . . .which has since become the label icon. After purchasing another 60 beautiful hillside acres in Sonoma Valley, they planted cabernet Franc and Merlot, and started producing wine under the Nelson Estate Label in 1986. Although most of their acreage is under contract, small very limited amounts are reserved for the Nelson Estate label. Both varietals have won gold medals and "Best of Class" awards at recent California competitions. Brand new varietals on the scene are very limited bottlings of Russian River Pinot Noir and Russian River Chardonnay. Nelson Estate is very fortunate to have the renown Merry Edwards as their winemaker! Nelson Estate wines are available for tasting at the "Family Wineries of Sonoma Valley" located in the heart of Kenwood, CA.”

Obit Photo David Nelson 3

   David and Holly remained successful wine producers until selling their last vineyard in January 2021.

   David died on January 14, 2023. He is survived by his wife Holly; his sisters Melinda Hamilton and Nancy Joan Steward; and his two sons Rick and Robert.

   Without any doubt his was a life fully lived.

   (- Bill Day)