Farmers organize tractor tribute in memory of Imlay City’s Gerald Nelson


More than 30 vehicles participated in the tribute.

IMLAY CITY — Farm implements aren’t a common sight on local roads this time of year, but dozens of tractors, trucks and other vehicles were sprung from their barns on Monday for a special task. That’s when friends and acquaintances of Gerald Nelson organized a tractor parade in his memory.

The 60-year-old Goodland Township resident passed away on January 1 and following a private service at the Goodland Community Church, the assembled farm vehicles and their occupants helped escort the Muir Brothers Funeral Home hearse from the church to the Imlay Township Cemetery.

Steve Hoeksema said it was a joint effort among several of Gerald’s friends and fellow farmers to organize the tribute.

“We had a few people working on it. Everyone just called a few friends and it went from there,” he said.

In all, 36 vehicles joined the procession. Hoeksema said participants came from Imlay City, North Branch, Hadley and places even further afield.

“They were all people who knew Gerald from one activity or another,” Hoeksema said.

Considering that farmers work in all kinds of weather, Hoeksema said the group wasn’t phased by the bitterly cold temperatures that day.

“Everyone was geared up for it and, without a doubt, the heat was on full blast in all those tractors,” he said.

According to his obituary, Gerald spent his entire career in agriculture, most recently growing soybeans, wheat, hay and asparagus in addition to being a maple syrup producer and operating Nelson Maple Products.

A celebration of life service for Gerald Nelson is being planned for later in the spring or summer.