Gaylord A. Nelson, U.S. Senator

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Gaylord A. Nelson, U.S. Senator's Geni Profile

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Gaylord Anton Nelson

Also Known As: "Happy Nelson"
Birthplace: Clear Lake, Polk, Wisconsin, United States
Death: Died in Kensington, Montgomery, Maryland, United States
Cause of death: Cardiovascular failure
Place of Burial: Clear Lake, Polk, Wisconsin, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Dr. Anton N. Nelson and Mary B. Nelson
Husband of Carrie Lee Nelson
Brother of Janet Nelson; Peg Nelson and Stannard K. Nelson

Occupation: Founder, Earth Day; US Senator; US Governor
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Gaylord A. Nelson, U.S. Senator

Gaylord Anton Nelson (June 4, 1916 – July 3, 2005) was an American politician from Wisconsin who served as a United States Senator and governor. The sponsor of several significant environmental bills, Gaylord Nelson is best known as the founder of Earth Day, currently celebrated on April 22 world-wide.

First elected Governor of Wisconsin in 1958, he guided state legislation providing funding for statewide conservation efforts in 1961. A year later he was elected to the U.S. Senate – the same year Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" sparked a world-wide grass-roots movement of environmentalism.

Nelson directly tied creation of the first Earth Day in 1970 with persuading U.S. politicians that environmental legislation had a substantial, lasting constituency. Like Octavia Hill, a social and environmental activist from a generation earlier, Nelson continued bi-partisan work on a wide variety of environmental and social issues. "Our goal," he said, "is not just an environment of clean air and water and scenic beauty. The objective is an environment of decency, quality, and mutual respect for all other human beings and all other living creatures." Gaylord Nelson on the 25th anniversary of Earth Day


  • Parents: Anton Nelson (1880-1957) and Mary Bradt.


  1. 1947 to Carrie Lee Dotson; Children: Gaylord, Jeffrey, Tia.

Printed works

  • Christofferson, Bill,"The Man from Clear Lake: Earth Day Founder Senator Gaylord Nelson," The University of Wisconsin Press, 2004.
  • "Beyond Earth Day: Fulfilling the Promise," by Gaylord Nelson, with Susan Campbell and Paul Wozniak, The University of Wisconsin Press, 2002.
  • Nelson, Gaylord. America's Last Chance. Waukesha, Wis: Country Beautiful Corp.; Distributed by Rand McNally, 1970.


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Gaylord A. Nelson, U.S. Senator's Timeline

June 4, 1916
Clear Lake, Polk, Wisconsin, United States
- 1934
Age 13
Clear Lake High School
- 1939
Age 18
San Jose State College
- 1942
Age 22
University of Wisconsin
November 15, 1947
Age 31
Age 41
Age 44
Age 45
Age 46
April 22, 1970
Age 53