Someone you should know: Nelson Trimmer
Lake Area Resident Since: 1945
Claim to Fame: WWII veteran, former Millersport mayor, volunteer firefighter
A Favorite Memory: Flying around the Eiffel Tower in a glass-nose P38J
Most Often Heard Saying: “I’d rather watch grass grow than play Bingo.”
MILLERSPORT - “I keep looking around for old people and don’t see any,” Nelson Trimmer jokes. As he prepares to celebrate his 92nd birthday, he spends his days mowing his lawn, working on his antique cars, driving and gardening.
Trimmer, a World War II veteran, is still active in American Legion #637, once was written-in as the winning candidate for Millersport Mayor, drove a school bus and logged 35 years as a volunteer firefighter in town.
“Everybody should be active in a civic or church activity,” Trimmer says. “There’d be less complaints and more would get done. When you find something wrong, you need to help fix it.”
Trimmer has been “fixing it” all his life.
A 1937 graduate of Pickerington High School, he trained in auto mechanics and welding at Franklin University before being drafted into the Army Air Corp in 1942. He attended Engine & Airplane School in New Mexico, training in the desert before shipping to northern Ireland to service B26 bombers used to fly over Germany. Trimmer spent time in Bath, England, preparing for the invasion of France and was among the first Air Force ground troops to land at Omaha Beach on June 13. He spent time in France and Germany.
Trimmer, sporting a tee-shirt that reads “Freedom is not Free,” has enough fascinating stories of WWII to fill a book.
He wintered in a tent outside Paris, where it was 20 below zero. He flew in a glass-nose P38J plane around the Eiffel Tower. He invented a creative “washing machine” in France using a giant stainless steel kettle from a German fortress, adapting it with a paddle, bicycle sprocket and diesel engine to wash the greasy coveralls of the guys in the motor pool. He made a boat out of a belly tank and sailed it on a lake on Sunday afternoons. He saved his candy and chewing gum rations to give to kids in the orphanage on Christmas. He saw the concentration camp in Dachau, Germany.
His own son was born just before he shipped out for Ireland.
Trimmer met his wife of 69 years, Pauline, at church when she was 16 and he was 18. “My father was very strict and wouldn’t let me go out with a boy alone, so my twin sister had to go along, too,” Pauline recalls. “Nelson talked his cousin into going as her date, and they ended up getting married before we did. Then my brother married his sister, too.”
Nelson and Pauline married in 1941, and he shipped out to Europe when their son Nelson Don was just three days old. Trimmer returned three-and-ahalf years later and moved his family to Millersport when he got a job at the Millersport Garage. The couple also has a daughter, Pamela.
Trimmer ran the Millersport Garage himself for 15 years, then worked in machine repair at Western Electric until he retired in 1981. After his retirement, he worked part-time on boats at the Buckeye Lake Marina.
“I love this town,” he says of Millersport.
He is still a member of Trinity United Methodist Church in Pickerington, where he was “carried in as a baby.” Serving the Lord in everything, he says, is the best advice he can give to youngsters.
His other great loves are a 1940 Le Salle and 1955 Studebaker President that he takes to shows as a member of the Lancaster Old Car Club. He is proud to have been a part of a WWII Veteran Honor Flight to Washington DC and prouder still of the legacy of his family: 10 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandson.
Trimmer was recently honored by his community as the Grand Marshal of the July Fourth Boat Parade.