Jocko Nelson ’50 Inducted 1979


Jocko   Nelson

Jack "Jocko" Nelson was head football coach at Gustavus from 1966-71. His 1967 and 1968 teams were MIAC Champions and his overall record was 32-11-4. He played basketball, football, track and baseball in high school at Hibbing. After high school, he spent 14 months in the U.S. Navy and played basketball during that time. While he was a Gustavus student from 1946-50, Jocko lettered in football, basketball, hockey, track and baseball, and also played professional baseball in the Braves organization between his sophomore and junior years.

Following graduation, he taught and coached football and basketball at Grand Marais and Mora High Schools for four years. He then served as an assistant coach at Utah State from 1955-58, the University of Colorado from 1958-59 (where he also earned his master's degree), and the University of Michigan from 1959-66 before returning to coach at Gustavus. After his coaching tenure at Gustavus, Jocko was linebacker and special teams coach for the Minnesota Vikings from 1971 until his untimely death on November 19, 1978.

Since 1964 he had owned and operated, Jocko's Clearwater Lodge & Canoe Outfitters with his family. He was a devoted family man and loved his lodge on the Gunflint Trail, but football was his life interest and he will always be remembered as a great coach. He was survived by his wife, Lee, and their children, Margy ('73), Jackie, Dan, and Bob.