As a lifetime resident of Jamestown, Jeff Nelson has always been active in the local community. This is, in part, on the advice of his mother, who died last year at the age of 100.
“She always said that to live a long life, you have to live by this motto: stay active; stay interested,” said Nelson.
At age 74, Nelson has certainly been an active participant in many Jamestown groups and organizations over the years.
On top of an active career in real estate and consulting, Nelson has been involved with local politics. He was once a member of the city council, a formal mayoral candidate, and served time on the planning commission and zoning board of appeals. Involved with planning and housing since the 1970s, Nelson has seen the city of Jamestown through much of its changes throughout the last several decades.
“The problem with change, though, is that change is always happening,” said Nelson.
One constant, however, has been Nelson’s involvement with the Y. Having spent some time at the Y as a kid, he joined the Y again after high school. He has been on the board of directors, even serving as the board president for a time, and he has also worked on various Y committees over the years.
Nelson’s journey at the Y started a few years after high school when he, along with several others that also worked in architecture, decided to learn to play handball.
“We played there for the next 40 years,” Nelson said. “The beauty of the Y was, and still is, the people. The ‘Y Guys,’ as we called ourselves, were fun people to be with, fun people to play handball with, and we all learned to be good losers when we lost.”
As the years passed, more of Nelson’s family became involved with the Y.
“My son and I got involved with the Y’s Indian Guides program,” Nelson said. “That was a fun experience, because we met even more people and became part of that community, too.”
Nelson and his family have also appreciated the broad range of activities available at the Y. Throughout his lifetime, two of his children and three of his grandchildren have spent time on the YMCA Jets Swim Team.
“The Y has filled out my life, and it all has to do with the people I’ve met there and the way that we interact,” said Nelson. “There’s something about being here, as compared to other places. There’s always a lot of chatter going on and friendships being made.”
Though Nelson doesn’t play handball often anymore, he enjoys swimming, biking, lifting weights and using the rowing machine for stretching. He has also participated in the yoga, pilates and Zumba group exercise classes offered at the Y.
“My doctor said this week that I’m as young as I am and in as good shape as I’m in because of all the activities I’m involved with at the Y and in the community,” said Nelson.
Staying true to his mother’s motto, Nelson has also spent many years as a mentor with Chautauqua Striders, and he is an active member of the First Lutheran Church of Jamestown.