By George Slaughter
Former Katy Mayor Johnny Nelson was fondly remembered Thursday as an impact player who brought the Katy Mills Mall to the Katy area.
Nelson served as mayor from 1983-87 and as city administrator from 1994-2014. He died Sunday. He was 79.
In his homily, the pastor Dr. Charles Wisdom recalled how he and Nelson first met. Wisdom had just moved to Katy from San Antonio, where in addition to his ministry he had been active in his local Rotary Club. He attended a Katy Rotary Club meeting and was joining the club when he learned who was sitting next to him at the table.
When Wisdom heard Nelson’s name, he asked if Nelson was related to the mayor.
“He said, ‘I am the mayor,’” Wisdom said, drawing a chuckle from the crowd.
In paying tribute to Nelson, Wisdom recalled three Biblical heroes: Abraham, Moses, and David. He said he was exaggerating to compare Nelson to these three heroes—“If Johnny were here, he’d be embarrassed,” Wisdom said—but his point was that these were mighty men who had fallen.
Wisdom described Nelson as an impact player in bringing Katy Mills Mall to Katy. He said Nelson was a civic-minded person who served in the Rotary Club, the Optimist Club, and the West Harris County Water Authority.
Wisdom said Nelson was also active in the Katy Chamber of Commerce, an honorary member of the Katy Future Farmers of America, and was the founder and director of the Katy Heritage Museum.
“He was a very, very gifted man,” Wisdom said.
The funeral service was held at Katy’s First Baptist Church, 600 Pin Oak Road. About 400 people attended, including numerous current and former city officials. The church’s worship center was configured to hold approximately 700 people, a church official said.
Nelson is survived by his wife Paulette; children Sherry, Gary and wife Alex, and Mike; grandchildren Tonya, Jonathan, Austin and wife Ashley, Garrett, Stephanie and Cade; great-grandchildren Keelan, Caleb and Addison; and his sister, Lo Poorman.
Graveside services were to be private.