Ralph S. Nelson and Jeanette W. Nelson were both born in Kansas, Ralph in 1880 and Jan in 1884. Ralph graduated from the University of Kansas Law School in 1904, along with future Coeur d’Alene residents Ezra Whitla, Robert Elder and Eugene Ware. Jeanette graduated from Vassar College in 1905.
They were married in 1907 and Ralph joined her father and brother in the law firm of Ware Nelson & Ware in Kansas City Kansas.
Ralph and Jeanette moved to Coeur d’Alene in December 1910 and Ralph joined his college classmate Ezra Whitla in the practice of law. In November 1912 Ralph was elected Mayor of Coeur d’Alene and later served 5 terms in the Idaho State Senate. He was very active in the Idaho Republican Party for 40 years.
After running a workman’s compensation insurance pool for the Idaho timber industry for many years, Ralph formed the Idaho Compensation Company in 1936, which sold workman compensation insurance in Idaho Montana and Utah, retiring in 1956.
Ralph traded some land for an island at Killarny Lake in the 1920’s and formed the Killarny Duck Hunting Club with several of his friends. The property was sold to the Idaho Fish and Game agency in 1959. Ralph was also a charter member of the Coeur d’Alene Rotary Club.
Jeanette was active in women’s church and social circles and was known for her show garden at the family home, 906 Foster. She hybridized iris for many years and sold her iris throughout the west.
A world traveler, Jeanette traveled with her three children and Mary Ware to Paris in 1929. The children attended school in Paris during the week and went on side trips on weekends.
They were charter members of the Hayden Lake Country Club where Jeanette was ladies club champion several times.
In 1946 they donated Coeur d’Alene’s first library building to the city, located at 703 Lakeside.
The Nelsons had three children, Spencer, Ralph and Jean. Spence and Ralph were both lawyers who followed their father in the insurance business. After graduating from Vassar College, Jean received her PHD from Stanford and worked at the Stanford Research Institute for 30 years.