Ronald Nelson

Obituary of Ronald Larkin Nelson

Ronald Larkin Nelson, 75, of East Peoria, passed away on Monday, March 20, 2023, at OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria. He was born in Peoria on June 26, 1947, to George and Viola (Hughes) Nelson. He married his wife of 42 years, Victoria Nelson on December 5, 1980; she preceded him in death on August 3, 2021. He was also preceded in death by his parents and two brothers, Dana and Randy. He is survived by his daughter, Michelle Antunes of Marblehead, MA; his granddaughter, Madeleine Antunes; two brothers, Donny and Kenny; and several nieces and nephews. Ronald joined the Navy in 1964 and served in the Vietnam War until 1968. Also known as Red Eye, Ronald was a wonderful man. He was known to be strong and tough but underneath that tough exterior was a man as sweet and loving as they come, a real heart of gold. He was fearless and defended those he loved fiercely, especially his girls, beginning with his beloved mother, Viola. He loved his girls and his animals more than anything. A Vietnam Veteran, an armchair physicist, a music fan (especially Jazz), an avid defender of creatures big and small, he was a true feminist and Ally to all and always a fan of the underdog. He was intelligent and funny, affectionate and quick with a hug or a foot rub; he worked hard, partied hard, and loved even harder. He had the best (and craziest!) stories ever – things one would swear could not possibly be true! But then, at some later time, someone else would corroborate the same stories and then you knew it was all true – unbelievable! It has been said by many that he was THE original Hippie of Peoria – the first man with long hair – the Real Deal - and anyone who knows him knows it is true; he was and will forever remain a true legend. You did not want to mess with Red Eye, but if you were his friend or one of his Tribe, he would always have your back and be there when you needed help. Ron was loyal beyond belief and the epitome of integrity. He was a wonderful friend, father, grandfather, and a loving and devoted husband who took care of his family, both immediate and extended. He is and will forever be deeply missed and loved. If only we had written all his wild stories down! Cremation rites have been accorded. Cremation Specialist of Central Illinois is assisting the family. Memorial contributions can be made to a charity of the donor’s choice that benefits Vietnam Veterans. Online condolences may be left at
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