Jimmy Ray Nelson, beloved friend to many, died March 22. He was 71.

The following was provided by his family.

Jimmy was born in Norfolk, Nebraska, on July 26, 1949, and moved to Jackson in the early 1990s.

Jimmy served as an active-duty rifleman in the Marine Corps in the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1969, earning the rank of corporal, followed by four years in the Marine Corps Reserves.

During his service he earned the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal with Device, the Vietnam Service Medal, a Combat Action Ribbon and the Meritorious Mast.

From there Jimmy went to college at St. Mary’s College in Nebraska from 1969 to 1974. He earned his bachelor’s degree in respiratory therapy, earning the titles of certified respiratory therapist and respiratory care practitioner.

He served as a respiratory therapist for over 40 years, helping and touching hundreds of lives in the process.

Jimmy was the definition of selflessness and caring. All who knew him know he was cut-and-dry, with a cynical sense of humor, but would be there for those he cared about at a moment’s notice. He genuinely cared about the well-being of others, which was reflected not only in his words but in the many generous gifts and deeds done for all.

He donated to several causes and charities, including the Marine Corps Association and Foundation, the Disabled American Veteran Foundation, the Wyoming Highway Patrol and the Wyoming Special Olympics.

Jimmy had a passion for guns, tequila and Native American artifacts, which he reproduced by hand at a level of the highest quality and which he often shared with any and all around him. Any chance to buy a new gun or take a swig of good tequila he would take without hesitation.

Jimmy was a proud veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, a patriot, an exceptional friend, and considered to be family by many. He was a great man whose influence will forever be felt by everyone who loved him, all of whom know they will see each other again. He will be dearly missed.

Jimmy is survived by his sisters, Wendy Gibson and Sharon Liggett.

Services will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 17, at Valley Mortuary. Condolences may be sent to the family at ValleyMortuaryJackson.com.

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