If you peruse the Life in the PTC Bubble Facebook page frequently, you will recognize the name Dan Nelson as the man who posts phenomenal bird photographs. He is more than just our local bird photographer extraordinaire; however, he is also a man with a philanthropic heart. Meet your neighbor, Dan Nelson…
Dan was born and raised in Huntington, West Virginia. He met his wife of 52 years, Sally, at the student union building at Marshall University where Dan was in the ROTC and Sally was a student. After getting his first camera at the age of twelve, Dan fell in love with photography and quickly decided that he wanted to be a wildlife photographer when he grew up. However, as a college student he realized that the demand for nature photographers was extremely low. So Dan settled for a more marketable degree in geology. After graduation, during the Vietnam era, he served in the Army for two years but fortunately was never sent to war. Once his commitment to the Army was fulfilled, Dan was hired by the oil company, Texaco, and he and Sally moved to New Orleans where they lived for 31 years raising a son and daughter along the way. Dan retired from Texaco as an Exploration Manager at the young age of 55. Instead of retiring to North Carolina as planned, Dan and Sally fell in love with Peachtree City after visiting their son who lived here working as a manager for the Marriott Corporation. Forget North Carolina, the Nelsons had Georgia on their minds, and lucky for us, after 19 years in Peachtree City, they still do!
Retirement did not slow Dan down, and at almost 74 years of age, he is still enjoying and contributing to our community in many ways. For 15 years Dan was an active Kiwanis Club member and was named Kiwanian of the Year two times. His love of photography has continued throughout his life, and as such he served as the Photography and Publicity Chairman for the Kiwanis Club for countless years. He was also the official photographer for his church, Peachtree City United Methodist Church and for the Great Georgia Air Show. Dan Nelson (or at least his photographs!) seems to be almost everywhere you look in Peachtree City. You may have seen him at the Shakerag Festival a few years ago selling his photographs, or you may have seen his prints hanging in the reception area at our City Hall. His talent can also be seen on the walls of the Peachtree City airport. Dan’s retirement has been busy to say the least!
Every October, since 2000, Dan and Sally have participated in the Alzheimer’s Walk in Peachtree City. After Fred Brown took over as the director for the walk, he invited Dan to one of the organizational meetings, and little did Dan know that he was already on the list of volunteers as the Public Awareness Chairman for the Alzheimer’s Walk! Dan learned so much about the disease through this position, and because of this he was able to spot early signs of Alzheimer’s in his wife. Due to early detection and medication, six years in and Sally is continuing to do well. Each year she captains a team for the walk called “Sally’s Supporters.” Over the years Sally has raised over $15,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association, and currently Peachtree City ranks #2 in the state behind Atlanta for the most money raised by the Alzheimer’s Walk. Dan and Sally have both made lasting contributions to this worthy charity. For more information on this annual fundraising walk, go to:
Dan’s latest project is a fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association where he will be holding a silent auction at Wild Bird’s Unlimited (in the Fresh Market shopping area) on Saturday, March 19. Dan will have 29 original photos matted and framed up for auction. Over half are bird photos, but there will also be a variety of other subjects such as Starr’s Mill, the Blue Angels, flowers, and butterflies. The auction will be held from 11:00AM-3:00PM, and the winner does not have to be present at the end in order to win. No credit cards will be accepted, but personal checks made out directly to the Alzheimer’s Association are welcomed. Dan is donating 100% of the money generated to this charity which is near and dear to his heart. Please come out and support our neighbor in his latest philanthropic endeavor.
Not only has Dan Nelson been busy in retirement with volunteer work and photography, he and Sally are also busy traveling. In fact when I reached out to him about this interview, the couple were down in Florida visiting five different wildlife refuges. While there, of course, Dan took several thousand photos, some of which he shared on the Life in the PTC Bubble page. He and Sally have traveled to all of the major national parks as well as to Alaska and Hawaii on multiple trips.
Dan Nelson is a man that has made many contributions to our community since he retired here almost twenty years ago. When they are not traveling or volunteering somewhere, he and Sally can often be seen on their golf cart cruising the paths and enjoying nature. In the early evenings they love to go out looking for deer and other wildlife, and you better believe that Dan has gotten some amazing photos of the animals they have encountered along the way!
If you would like to meet Dan and Sally in person or if you are interested in purchasing any of Dan’s incredible photographs with a winning bid at the silent auction, please stop Wild Birds Unlimited on Saturday, March 19 between 11:00AM-3:00PM.