Cover photo for Ronald E. Nelson's Obituary
Ronald E. Nelson Profile Photo
1940 Ronald E. Nelson 2023

Ronald E. Nelson

November 30, 1940 — September 17, 2023


Ronald E. Nelson, 82, Went to be with our Lord on Sunday, September 17, 2023 with his beloved wife and son at his side after a brief illness at the hospital.

Ron was born on November 30, 1940 at home to Grace and Milford Nelson in Barada, Nebraska. He grew up in Falls City, NE until Junior high when they moved to Wamego, KS for his secondary education.

He was the Wamego High school star quarterback and basketball player throughout those years.

He went on to get his College degree in Horticulture at KSU.  He was a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

He found his passion for plants while working for a greenhouse in Wamego, Ks from 7th grade through college.

He got married and started a family in Manhattan while finishing college. He married his 6th grade sweetheart, Beverly Berner and they have enjoyed 62 years of marriage.

They Moved to Kansas City in 1965 and purchased a bankrupt greenhouse in Overland Park, Ks with George Keller as his partner, who owned Rainbow Nursery in Westwood Ks,


He grew flowers for wholesale and began a retail store with an over shipment of geraniums which begun the first Annual Overland Park Garden Center geranium sale with 4/$1.

April 1, 1970 was a company fire that forced a complete makeover for a new retail center on the end of that dirt road in Overland Park.

The Shawnee retail store was purchased in 1980 and the

Liberty retail store was added in 1989.

About this time he was inspired to change the name to Family Tree Nursery.

Then began the growing facilities at Wolcott in 1986 and Donahoo in 2019.



Ron served on the  Board of Director at Metcalf Bank, past president of KC Nurseryman’s Association, President of Western Association of Nurserymen, Past President of the Overland Park Chamber of Commerce, and on the Elder board at their church for 10 years.

Radio personality on the Jack Tobian show, a local gardening talk show.

He was a frequent guest on the  Betty Hayes TV show as a gardening expert.

After his retirement he spent several springs delivering truckloads of plant material to the Family Tree Nursery stores for his boss, son Eric.



A Love for fishing  included trips to Canada with the Sportsman’s Friend, Harold Ensley and his son Dusty Ensley.

He became a private pilot in 1975 and owned his own plane for a decade and he and Bev( Who also quickly became a pilot, for obvious reasons) flew for business and pleasure trips.

Golfing was a passion he had that reached all over the United States. His one and only hole-in-one was on March 19, 2001.

Traveling around the world with Bev and many friends on cruises and trips coast to coast.

Breckenridge Colorado became a second home in the summer where they enjoyed the cool mountains hiking, Jeeping, cycling, golfing and spending time with friends and family.

Running was a season of life where he ran half marathons, 10K’s, 5 K’s for fun and fitness.

Painting  for a season proved he was quite good at that.

Cooking was a delicious pastime where family and friends benefitted from his cookies, pies, toffee, pizza, steaks, ribs, and soups.

K-state sports were right up there with past times as well as watching Chiefs, golf and basketball.

He had a genuine love for animals. From the dog Herman, to raising and training one colt and caring for horses, several spoiled cats, feeding birds and wildlife.

He also enjoyed etching glassware and modifying stemware with golf balls and some woodworking as well as handyman jobs for his Honey.


Ronald was preceded in death by a son, Abe Nelson; parents, Milford and Grace Nelson; and a sister, Jenny Craig.


He leaves behind  his wife, Bev Nelson  and son Eric, (Lorrie) grandsons, Josiah (Niki), Jonah (Andrea) Jesse (Taylor) Judd, and 10 great grandchildren and his older brother Ralph.


In lieu of flowers please make donations to City Union Mission or Salvation army.





To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Ronald E. Nelson, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Sunday, September 24, 2023

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

Johnson County Funeral Chapel

11200 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, KS 66210

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Memorial Service

Monday, September 25, 2023

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Central time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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