2016 Town & Gown Award

John Nelson

TownGownTo recognize his contributions for exceptional service in continuing the partnership between Western Illinois University and the Macomb community, John Nelson, third generation owner of Nelson's Clothing, has been named the recipient of the 2016 Town & Gown Award from the WIU Alumni Association. Nelson was recognized during the Feb. 25 Men's and Women's Leathernecks Basketball games in Western Hall, and will be presented with the award at the Purple & Gold Day celebration April 24 at the Sports Corner.

Nelson began working in his father's clothing store in 1976. Now, as owner of the downtown Macomb fixture, Nelson has supported Western throughout the years. He has donated his storefront for many years for WIU Homecoming's "Paint the Town" event, and Nelson has been an avid supporter of WIU Athletics and its annual Purple and Gold event. Nelson has also been involved with the WIU Performing Arts Society (PAS), including the society's annual Gala and wine tasting events, and has attended nearly 50 special events sponsored by the University.

"John continually supports the University through gifts to the PAS, athletics, alumni association, CBT, WIUM, COFAC, Rocky on Parade and more," said Amy Spelman, director of Alumni Relations. "He has been an integral part of the WIU and Macomb communities for decades, and his family-owned store has been a staple of the town square for 80 years. John is all in when it comes to WIU and Macomb. He is a graduate of WIU who has never left home, and he gives back to the place that has given him so much. John Nelson is what this award is all about. According to one of his nominators, 'He is the voice of reason and one of Macomb's biggest cheerleaders when it comes to celebrating the city.'"

Nelson is also currently active in the Macomb community as a member of the Macomb Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and Macomb Rotary Club. He has previously served on the Macomb Area Chamber of Commerce and twice served as president of Macomb Downtown Development. He has been active in the Presbyterian Church, working with others to provide assistance for those less fortunate in the Macomb area. Nelson also supports local Cub Scout and Boy Scout troops.

Previous recipients of the Town & Gown Award include Tom Claudon (2015), Todd Lester (2014), Bill Howard (2013), Tom Carper (2012), Mick Wisslead (2011), Lin Stults (2010), Jerry Cremer (2009), John Maguire (2008) and Charles Gilbert (2007).