Mr. Roger Nelson


Class of 1958
Career Pathway: Human Services

Roger NelsonRoger Nelson was nominated by Hans A. Andrews, GHS Class of 1956 and a 2005 GHS Hall of Fame honoree.

Mr. Nelson responded:

"I am deeply honored that on this 50th anniversary of my graduation from GHS, Dr. Hans Andrews has submitted my name as the nominee, and you, Mr. Powers, and the Board of Education have chosen me, from the Class of '58 to be an inductee into the Fourth Annual Grayling High School Alumni Hall of Fame. I am doubly pleased that my alma mater has chosen a representative who works in the field of social work, where the diversity and complexity of poverty, youth and other human needs are enormous.

"My preparation began as a fourth generation of Nelsons in Grayling, with fabulous parents, a safe and supportive community, and a school, attending K-12 with teachers that stimulated and prepared us and overall was such fun. After graduation, I attended and earned an associate of arts degree at, what was then, Northwestern Michigan Community College, in Traverse City. From there I attended Alma College, where I discovered my passion for sociology.

"Upon earning a B.A. degree in 1964, I commenced a career with the State of Michigan in social services. By then I had met, at her senior prom in Grayling, Ms. Sharon Renaud, who a year later would become my wife and my life-partner. We began our journey together in 1962, some 46 years ago. We were equally blessed with three children, each successful and pursuing their career paths: Michael, a painter, Paul, an engineer and Pam, an accountant.

"My chosen field of employment was and remains social work. That profession affords one to chose from a wide spectrum of career options and, given the diversity of human need and challenge, there are tremendous options and opportunities to serve. Obtaining a master's degree (an M.S.W.) can double or triple the range and depth of options, which I chose to do, and had the good fortune of accomplishing at the University of Michigan in 1971.

"A sampler of my careers include: day care and foster home licensing; casework with foster children and families; counseling and treating youth and parents; group treatment with traumatized veterans, neglectful parents and troubled youth; serving various roles of ascending responsibility, including supervision and administration; teaching courses in social work as an assistant professor at WMU; training graduate students for careers in children services; and 20 years of training other professionals in skills ranging from how to offer job readiness workshops, to serving reactionary clientele, to providing strength-based/solution-focused services, and others.

"From 1964 to 2001, some 37 years, I've enjoyed the stimulation and remuneration that goes with learning, performing and training social work and from having served in 10 divergent careers (and counting) within it. Since my first retirement from State and several other agencies, initially in 1997, and then in 2001, I've enjoyed being a volunteer and am serving in a variety of roles, from supportive counseling to grief support to developing local youth prevention programs within the church and in the community."

Retired since 2001, Mr. Nelson has more time to enjoy family, friends, church and volunteering in areas such as supportive counseling with families where one parent suffers a disability. During the holidays, he facilitates a grief support group during that tough time of the year. With Sharon and others, he leads a local blood drive. He helped institute a youth asset building outreach program for local at-risk children. For extreme fun, Roger joined a song and dance group of seniors, the "Social Security Scandals."