Mr. Al Nelson
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
It is with a joyful heart we inform you that longtime Valley Christian teacher, coach, and friend, Mr. Al Nelson, has been called to his eternal home.
Al passed away peacefully in his sleep this morning at approximately 3:14am. As many of you may know, Al’s favorite number was Pi, or 3.14.
He spent his last days and weeks continuing to spread the love of Christ through a divine peace that passes all of our human understanding.
Through visits with friends and family, phone conversations, and messages, Al continued to inspire all those around him and show the love, joy, and peace of the Holy Spirit and of a man who loved God and sought to serve Him.
Al was born on October 21, 1958 in Fort Benning, Georgia. His father in the military, he spent his childhood moving from place to place. Some of the many homesteads included Georgia, Colorado, West Germany, New York, Kentucky, with the longest stop being in Minnesota, where Al spent his junior high, high school, and college years. He enjoyed these years, especially excelling in academics, learning the trumpet, and developing his love for baseball. After high school, Al attended the University of Minnesota – Morris and majored in Math. He was the top trumpet player on campus, developing his love for playing music and leading the band.
Al lost his mother in a car accident in 1967 when he was eight years old. His father remarried later, and during all these family changes, Al came to accept Christ on July 14, 1975. “He started immediately to direct my path and change me from the inside out. The Sunday after I was saved, I played a trumpet solo in church and have done so at every church I have attended ever since.”
After graduating with his undergraduate degree, Al sought to become a college professor and started graduate work, but the Lord directed his path otherwise and he joined the Continentals, a traveling music group that sought to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He played first trumpet for nine tours with the group, performing in over 900 concerts in 49 states and 31 countries. While touring, he also taught at a high school and then a business college before moving to Arizona in 1984.
Al joined the Valley Christian family in the Fall of 1987. A dedicated math teacher who prepared his students in the classroom and truly cared about his students, he was a beloved teacher, coach, mentor, and friend. During his 31 years at Valley Christian, he served as the lead assistant coach for track & field, assisted with girls basketball, kept stats for football, served as the head volleyball coach and as an assistant volleyball coach, and directed the band. Al delighted in sharing his gift of music by playing the national anthem on his trumpet before many Valley sporting events.
His interests included World War II history, Olympic history, and baseball history. He wrote a paper on higher-dimensional theory and was a Sudoku master. And of course, everyone knows all about his famous sense of humor.
Al believed that Math is the language God uses in his creation. He also believed that today’s teenagers have an abundance of talent and energy that God can use in a mighty way to meet the challenges this next generation faces.
He was also a respected coach and competitor across the state. Al served as a state official for state cross country and track and field state and regional meets for 30 years. In 2016, the City of Chandler recognized him with their Sports Hall of Fame Special Recognition Award.
His impact on his students, colleagues, Valley Christian families, and the greater community cannot be adequately summed up, but will always inspire us. Al wanted everyone to know how much he loved Valley Christian and teaching. His mark on our school and our students was clearly evident by all the comments and messages he has received this last month. It truly uplifted his spirit and he knew without a shadow of a doubt that his work here on Earth was not in vain.
We invite you to join us as we celebrate the life of Al Nelson on Sunday, April 15 at 2:30pm in the Bradley Gymnasium. In lieu of flowers, he asked that any gifts you may give would go towards a new student scholarship fund created by a legacy gift from Al.
Flags will be lowered to half-staff on campus the remainder of the week and again for his celebration of life.
At the service, we will also announce how our school intends to memorialize Al Nelson’s legacy.