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Gerald 'Jerry' Nelson Passes

Published: January 12, 2019 5:02 pm ET

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Longtime harness racing industry participant Gerald 'Jerry' Nelson of Truro, N.S. and Coconut Creek, Fl., passed away in Truro with family and friends by his side on Friday, January 11 at the age of 86.

Nelson passed peacefully at the Colchester East Hants Health Centre in Truro.

Born and raised in Truro, Nelson fell in love with horses as a boy and started working with Standardbreds in his teen years. This was just one of Nelson’s passions, as he also loved to strap on some blades and hit the ice for a game of hockey. He was known for reminiscing of his action-packed days with the Truro Bear Cats with Shirley as his cheerleader. He remained a loyal friend with many of his teammates throughout his life.

After marrying Shirley, his high school sweetheart, in 1950, the duo soon after welcomed their two beautiful children, Debbie and Stanley. Family was so important to Gerry and challenging to balance in such a demanding industry. He always cherished the time when the family could be together.

Gerry, who was a longtime trainer/driver, started working in the racing circuits of the Maritimes. He was honoured with many prestigious awards during his time, including being one of the top drivers in eastern Canada for many years running.

Gerry and Shirley moved to the United States in 1977 and worked out of California, with the great Joe O’Brien, and Florida for many years till retirement. Nelson also was first trainer with Archie McNeil, Ron Waples, Joe Pavia Jr. and Wally Hennessey, and worked much of his career at Pompano Park. Gerry was honoured by the Florida chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016.

“Gerry has been around horses all his life,” Hennessey said at the time of the award announcement. “He was always reliable, super with the horses, he was the whole package. Everyone has nothing but the utmost respect for him.”

Gerry is survived by his lifelong love of 68 years, Shirley (Works) Nelson, daughter, Debbie Nelson of Florida, sister, Phyllis (Nelson) Coolen of Ontario, daughter-in-law, Beverley (Waddell) Nelson, most precious grandchildren, Joshua and Victoria (Tori) Nelson. Also left to mourn are numerous nephews, nieces, cousins, and friends. Besides his parents, the late Charlie and May (Connolly) Nelson, Gerry is predeceased by a son, Stan Nelson, brothers, Ralph Doyle, George Nelson, sisters, Mildred (Doyle) Dewar, Francis (Nelson) Saville.

Arrangements were handled by the Mattatall Varner Funeral Home in Truro. Gerry will be buried in Bible Hill Cemetery, Bible Hill. Donations in memory may be made to a charity of choice. The family would like to thank the hospital staff, Earth Angels and staff of Cedarstone Enhanced Care for being such loving support. Private messages of condolence may be sent to the family by viewing Gerry’s obituary online and selecting ‘Send A Condolence’ at

For more on Gerry’s passing, click here.

Please join Standardbred Canada in offering condolences to the family and friends of Gerry Nelson.

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