Couple rerouted, but back for parade
A well-loved and well-known couple will return to Glenwood Springs this weekend to lead the Strawberry Days parade at 10 a.m. Saturday. Jim and Mary Nelson, longtime volunteers and cheer-givers in Glenwood Springs, moved to Tucson, Ariz., in May.”We’ve known for the last couple of years that Jim had lung issues,” Mary said. In fact, Jim had been fighting emphysema, a lung disease that affects the body’s ability to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide.They knew he would feel better at lower altitudes, and they began searching for another place to live. They found their place in Tucson in an over-55 community where more than a dozen retired Glenwood Springs couples live. Best of all, they were in a place where the air is drier than here. Instantly, Jim felt better.The decision to name them the grand marshals of this year’s Strawberry Days parade was based not just on their sunny natures but their invaluable gifts to the community as volunteers.”Jim and Mary have volunteered hundreds and hundreds of hours to our community,” said parade chairman Ken Murphy, operations manager for the Glenwood Canyon Resort and Rock Gardens Rafting. Since they were relocating to Arizona, “We wanted to do something to honor them.”Their parade duties will include launching the parade, sitting atop the lead float, waving to their fans and judging float entries. Jim and Mary, who moved to town in 1973, owned Numbers Inc., an accounting firm. They were named Citizens of the Year by the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association in 2002 and won the Post Independent’s Locals’ Choice award for the town’s best couple many years running.Both have served as Chamber ambassadors for many years and served on the Chamber board.”As long as I have been involved in the Chamber and the community, for 20 years, I can remember Jim and Mary being here,” said Chamber CEO Marianne Virgili.Ticking through their many volunteer activities, Virgili listed their work with the Defiance Community Players theater company and their activism with Community on the Move to promote building the now-completed community center and a performing arts center.Both are true Renaissance people. Jim is a historian and author and turned a passion for photography into a profession. Mary has volunteered with Roaring Fork Hospice, caring for the dying, for many years. And both are well known to the community as historic figures – Jim played the infamous Doc Holliday – who appear and tell their stories during the annual Ghost Walk at Linwood Cemetery every fall. When the Chamber called them in the spring to ask if they would act as parade marshals, “We thought about if for about four seconds” and said yes. “We’re just tickled,” Mary said.Now they’re settling into Tucson. They’ve sold their business to some of the partners of the Dalby Wendland accounting firm in Glenwood and will stay retired in Tucson.”I’m turning 66 this year and Mary is, what, 42,” said Jim with his trademark humor. “We really enjoy being free to go anywhere we want to go.”Since his health has improved, Jim is now able to enjoy hiking, biking and playing golf.They plan to volunteer at the Sonora Desert Museum, and Mary will find a hospice where she can continue her volunteer work.”It’s too much a part of your soul not to,” she said.Meanwhile, friends will have a chance to see the Nelsons and cheer them on in the parade Saturday.”Glenwood has been so good to us over the years,” Jim said. “Glenwood is home. There will always be a part of us that’s here,” Mary added.
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