1923 Dr. 2022

Dr. Henry Sperry Nelson

January 16, 1923 — January 31, 2022

Dr. Henry Sperry Nelson passed January 31, 2022 at the age of 99. He is survived by his children: Dr. Henry Sperry Nelson, Jr. (Nancy) of Knoxville, TN, States Lee Nelson (Roxy) of Fort Worth, TX, Kathryn Nelson Manier of Nashville, TN, Elizabeth “Bizza” Nelson Britton (Ed) of Baton Rouge, LA, and Faye Nelson Maynard (Bill) of Nashville, TN; eleven grandchildren and eighteen great-grandchildren, with one on the way. His family describes Henry as a faithful strong servant, loving, dedicated, adaptable, and he empowered each of us to be our best. Henry was born in Huzhou, China to Methodist medical missionaries, Oscar Gustaf and Henrietta Sperry Nelson. Nashville was his hometown stateside where he attended Peabody Demonstration School and then Vanderbilt University - B.S (1943) and medical school (1945). While in medical school he met Kathryn “Katie” Wolff of Bethania, NC and they married in January 1945. They were devoted and happily married for 73 years. They served 40 years as career medical missionaries with Presbyterian (PCUSA) Mission Board in China and Democratic Republic of Congo where Henry helped design and build hospitals. He faithfully served as a surgeon and Katie as a nurse and nursing educator at IMCK (Christian Medical Hospital in the Kasai- Congo). In 1968 the family moved to Maryville, TN for Henry to join Drs. Henry and Jim Callaway’s surgery practice. In the 1970’s he was one of the founders of the emergency medical group serving Fort Sanders, Saint Mary’s Hospitals, and later Blount Memorial Hospital. He and Katie have been long time members of New Providence Presbyterian Church. Henry has always been a courageous and creative problem solver who imagined the possibilities. He used his intelligence and practical skills to sacrificially serve his family and patients. He has been a voracious reader, life-long learner, and user of new technology. He was also an amateur ham radio operator, licensed pilot, and author of Doctor With Big Shoes, a book describing his experiences in China and Africa. He leaves a legacy of a sense of adventure, love of learning, travel, and mostly the dedication to serve others. Gifts in memory of Henry may be sent to Medical Benevolence Foundation (MBF, PO Box 96877, Washington, DC 20090), designate for the Henry & Katie Nelson IMCK Endowment. The family will match all donations. Cards or remembrances may be sent to: Faye Maynard 1301 Harding Place, Nashville, TN 37215. Due to Covid, a memorial service will be held at a later date TBD. Smith Funeral & Cremation Service, Maryville, 865-983-1000, www.SmithFuneralandCremation.com To send flowers or a memorial gift to the family of Dr. Henry Sperry Nelson please visit our Sympathy Store.
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