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March 26, 2013

Condolences Ken Nelson

We advise the passing of Ken Nelson on Friday the 22nd of March 2013.

To Annie, Mary Ellen, Wes, Larne and Ashley go our heartfelt condolences.

Whenever our thoughts ponder around Ken it is just not possible for us to stay sad for too long. Some of our happiest days were spent in his company. When casting around for words to describe Ken we think of merriment, helping, goodwill, happiness, solutions and energy - all of them can be dominant, depending on the occasion.

Ken left Ireland as a teenager and joined his brother, Harold, at the Inkerman Sugar Mill in North Queensland. It was in the mid-60s that he answered a Townsville newspaper advertisement calling for a manager on a copra plantation on Bougainville.

From time to time, Ken would break loose and descend on the sleepy little town of Kieta. It was here that he befriended the colourful retinue of Rio Tinto drillers, legends like Graham Walpole, Noel Lueen (The Old Man) and Fongkee who were exploring for minerals in the wider region (including around Lihir) and undertaking a serious drilling program in the vicinity of Panguna, in Central Bougainville.

Ken significantly increased his revenue stream by joining Rio. A few years later his single days came to a close and Mary Ellen joined him. In early 1970 young Wes was just 12 months old. The Nelson house was next to Frank and Molly Gardner's, just opposite the little Panguna haus sik. Single expats were always most grateful to be invited for a home-cooked meal.

It was a close community lived in and around the much cherished Cricket Club. Many friends from those days have stayed connected to this day. There are just too many to mention but of interest to the Balikpapan community they included names like Clarke, Gomersall, Widt, Fraser Byass, Rochfort, Seebeck and some who have left us, Maurie Collis, Ian Forrester, etc.

Ken enjoyed good promotion in the Stores Dept and in the mid-70s transferred to BCL`s Sydney office. Many would visit him when on leave or there on company business. When in strife or needing a helping hand, Ken was always there. Ken at times "imposed" some long lunches upon on his visitor but then how else was he to keep track of what was happening at site. Eventually the Shipping Dept was transferred from Sydney to Brisbane and it was from here that the opportunity came for Ken to transfer within Rio to the Kaltim Prima Coal Project. From here he went to Kelian Gold and his life since then has been located around his base in Balikpapan. During this time he worked at several different mining projects.

Ken will be missed by all.

[Note from Webmaster: Ken Nelson last wrote in 2010 - see here.