Benjamin T. Nelson, “The Gov”

I met The Gov for the first time in April of 2001. I had just returned to Omaha from Portland,OR and was moving into a house with my friend Chris. The house had three bedrooms and Chris informed me that The Gov would be our third roommate.  The three of us lived in that house for a year, and while some memories are much clearer than others, I don’t ever remember arguing with The Gov or even being mad at him. I honestly can’t remember a time in the nearly 20 years I knew him that I didn’t truly enjoy spending time with him, and neither can anyone else we know.  He was the friend that you never turned down an opportunity to hang out with.

My opportunities almost always came on the golf course. Whether it was 6:30 a.m. rounds at Chili Greens before our classes at UNO started, or traveling to Phoenix to see The Gov at the PGA Academy; if either of us was on the course, there was a good chance we were together. I had always enjoyed golf, but playing with The Gov truly brought me to love the game, and it drove me to become better at it. There’s a saying that you learn a lot about a person by golfing with them and it’s true. After 20 years of spending countless hours on golf courses with The Gov, I learned why all of our friends took every opportunity to spend time with him.

He had the unique ability to make so many people just feel better. His smile was incredibly warm and his hugs were world-class. He was one of the most genuinely loving and caring people I have ever known. He gave you his full attention and could make you laugh so hard that you peed yourself, many times unintentionally doing so. He rarely said a bad word about anyone, and if he did, they definitely deserved it!  As stories have been shared between friends and family since his passing, they all have these same recurring themes. He loved so much and so many people and every single one of them loved him back. It’s the only comfort to take in a life cut way too short. I’m heartbroken that he is gone, but so very very grateful to have had the honor to be one of his close friends for the last 20 years. Thanks for bringing him into the world Tom and Judy!

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