The Fraternity mourns the passing of Kent “Oz” Nelson, Ball State ’59, who was widely admired as both a businessman and philanthropist.
Nelson earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Ball State, where he joined SigEp’s Indiana Gamma chapter and played on the tennis team. While a student, he took a part-time job at UPS as a package handler.
That was the beginning of a 37-year career with the company, during which Nelson steadily rose through the ranks before eventually becoming CEO in 1990.
During his tenure, he made a number of innovations that are still in use today. His philosophy of customer-centered service led to the implementation of real-time package tracking and new services like Saturday and next-day delivery. In 1991, he relocated the company’s headquarters from Greenwich, Connecticut, to Atlanta, one of the country’s major business and transportation hubs.
In 1995, the Fraternity recognized Nelson’s professional accomplishments with the SigEp Citation. He went on to serve on the Citation Nominating Committee for 10 years and was also a member of the Board of Governors, the lead donor group supporting the SigEp Annual Fund.
He served on his alma mater’s foundation board and as a committee member for three of Ball State’s capital campaigns. Nelson also gave his time to several other nonprofit organizations, including the United Way and the Carter Center. As a board member of the CDC Foundation, Nelson played an instrumental role in modernizing facilities across the Centers for Disease Control campus in the early 2000s.
A chapter brother who remained a lifelong friend of Nelson’s shared:
“During my 39 years on the Indiana Gamma AVC board, Oz visited the chapter many times, attended SigEp alumni events, and provided sound advice and leadership to us when we sought it. He was inducted as the charter member of the Indiana Gamma Hall of Fame in 1996. Oz was a 62-year brother and valued friend who I will miss and who will be missed by hundreds of Indiana Gamma alumni.
“One alumnus sent a note that said, ‘If we ever build a Mount Rushmore monument in front of the fraternity residence, the first carving will be Kent ‘Oz’ Nelson!’ That says it all.” — Don Park, Ball State ’61
Brother Nelson will be missed, but leaves an unmatched legacy of achievement and service that will long be remembered.
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