David J. Nelson, age 83, of Elgin, passed away on December 22, 2019 at Kindred Hospital in Sycamore, IL. David was born in Elgin on March 20, 1936 to his loving parents, George W.H. and Evelyn Nelson (Langerstrom).
David developed passion for the piano at a young age. At age 3, he refused to sing songs in church because he was fascinated with the woman playing the piano. At home, he would pull a chair up to the radiator and pretend to play the piano. By the time David was 6 years old, his parents were able to purchase a piano sold at an estate sale so he could take lessons. He excelled in his lessons and performed at many prestigious concerts as young student, both solo and together with his sister Carole, who was a talented singer. Many of his performances were also broadcast live on WRMN Radio.
David graduated from Elgin High School, Class of 1954, and went on to attend the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, where he earned his Bachelor of Music Degree in 1959 and Master of Music degree in 1961. In 1962, David was chosen to perform “Hungarian Fantasy” in the televised “Artists Showcase” with the NBC Symphony in Chicago. His career included piano performances in recitals with singers, violinists and flutists, and in concerts with orchestras.
David began teaching piano lessons in high school, and teaching was truly his lifelong passion. He taught piano and music theory for 53 years at his home studio. He also taught piano and music theory at Judson College for 11 years and piano at Elgin Community College for 17 years. In 1975, he told the Daily Courier-News that he remained first and foremost, a teacher: “I love teaching; taking talented students willing to work, molding them, and giving them as much as I can.”
David married the love of his life, Dolores, on December 27, 1967, and they shared 53 wonderful years together. They enjoyed attending performances by the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Chicago Symphony. They also served on the Board of the Fox Valley Music Association for many years together.
David was a solo performer with the Elgin Musicians Club, Elgin Symphony Orchestra and Elgin Choral Union, and he played for many churches and community events. He accompanied professional soloists in Handel’s “Messiah.”
David was passionate about historic preservation and volunteered as a board member and Programs Chair for the Elgin History Museum. He authored Story of My Life’s Musical Career as a Musician, Teacher and Pianist, a rich exploration of Elgin’s musical history in the 1940s and 50s through the lens of his personal experience with local musicians and teachers.
David won the Mayor’s Award twice, for educating and promoting an awareness of Elgin’s heritage through his leadership of community programming by the Elgin History Museum. He was also awarded the Elgin Area Art’s Council’s Community Spirit Achievement Award for his contributions towards the arts in Elgin.
David was preceded in death by his parents George W.H. and Evelyn Nelson, his dear sister Carole Jean Nelson Core and brother-in-law, Maurice Core.
David leaves to mourn his loving wife, Dolores Nelson; nieces Cindy Rowley and Sharon Atkins; and six great-nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be 10:30a.m. until time of service at 12:30p.m. Monday, December 30, 2019 at Symonds-Madison Funeral Home, 305 Park St., Elgin, Rev. Rick Carlson officiating. Interment to follow at Lakewood Memorial Park, 30W730 US-20, Elgin IL, 60120.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to The Elgin History Museum for the Nancy Kimball House Restoration Project, the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, or the charity of your choice.
Final arrangements entrusted to Symonds-Madison Funeral Home, 305 Park St, Elgin IL 60120. For more information call 847-741-1128 or visit www.symondsmadisonfuneralhome.com.