American Veteran 01

Joseph Henry Nelms

September 29, 1939 ~ April 30, 2023 (age 83) 83 Years Old


                                                                                      A True Southern Gentleman.

          Joseph Henry Nelms passed away on April 30, 2023, at the age of 83. Joe is survived by his loving wife of almost 61 years, Kathleen, their daughter Janet Mazur (Mike), son Joseph (Theresa), grandsons Nicholas Mazur and John Henry Nelms (Katie), and nieces and nephews. Joe was predeceased by his son John Michael, parents Kuy and Christine Nelms, brother Ralph Lee, and stepmother Clara Nelms.

Joe was born in Montrose, Mississippi and moved to the family farm in Athens, Georgia during World War II. He spent his early years there where he learned all about farm life while being spoiled by his grandparents. Joe later moved to Jackson, MS, graduating from Central High School. He had fond memories of playing with his childhood friends, all summer long, at Poindexter Park in Jackson.

After graduating high school, Joe joined the Marines and then the Air Force. In 1959, he was stationed at Hamilton Air Force Base in Marin County, CA, where he worked as a computer operator. It was during this time he met his wife, Kathy and after three years of courtship, they were married at Star of the Sea Church in San Francisco on May 5, 1962.

An Air Force transfer sent them to Ent AFB in Colorado Springs, CO, where their daughter Janet Lee was born. In 1963, they moved back to San Francisco as civilians, where sons Joseph William and John Michael were born, and Joe began his career in insurance working for Dunham, Carrigan and Hayden Insurance, and then Premier Insurance of the TransAmerica Corporation.

In 1974 Joe and family moved to Contra Costa County where he lived the remainder of his life, raising his family and participating in all the school, sports, scouting and other activities that his children were involved in. After leaving TransAmerica, Joe worked the balance of his career for Sierra Health Insurance before retiring in 2003. Joe was admired for his strong work ethic by all his colleagues.

In retirement, Joe loved traveling. He and Kathy enjoyed cruises and bus tours to faraway places. Joe also enjoyed camping, all sports, especially baseball, and was a fan of the Oakland Athletics. While he loved working around the house, maintaining his garden, and talking with neighbors, his favorite pastime was tinkering on his two vintage Porsches. He also enjoyed his art classes at Diablo Valley College and sharing his paintings with family and friends. Joe was a member of SIR Group 146 in Walnut Creek, where he had many friends and always enjoyed the presentations and travel outings.

Services for Joe will be held on Thursday, May 18th, 2023, at St. Ignatius of Antioch Catholic Church, 3351 Contra Loma Boulevard, Antioch, CA. There will be a Viewing from 9AM to 10:30AM, followed by a Funeral Mass beginning at 10:30AM. Immediately after the services, a reception will be held in the Church Hall.

In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations to Parkinson Network of MT. Diablo ( or Wounded Warrior Project (

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Joseph Henry Nelms, please visit our floral store.


American Legion Service
May 12, 2023

4:00 PM

May 18, 2023

9:00 AM to 10:30 AM
St. Ignatius of Antioch Catholic Church
3351 Contra Loma Blvd.
Antioch, CA 94509

Funeral Liturgy
May 18, 2023

10:30 AM
St. Ignatius of Antioch Catholic Church
3351 Contra Loma Blvd.
Antioch, CA 94509


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