|United States Senator
January 8, 1963 – January 3, 1981
|Preceded by||Alexander Wiley|
|Succeeded by||Bob Kasten|
|35th Governor of Wisconsin|
January 4, 1959 – January 4, 1963
|Lieutenant||Philleo Nash (1959–1961), Warren P. Knowles (1961–1963)|
|Preceded by||Vernon Wallace Thomson|
|Succeeded by||John W. Reynolds|
June 4, 1916|
Clear Lake, Wisconsin
|Died||July 3, 2005
|Spouse(s)||Carrie Lee Dotson|
|Children||Gaylord, Jeffrey, Tia|
|Alma mater||San Jose State College
University of Wisconsin Law School
|Occupation||Politician, activist, lawyer, veteran|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Personal Biography 
Nelson was born in Clear Lake, Wisconsin in 1916. He was elected governor of Wisconsin in 1958, and served two two-year terms before successfully running for Senate in 1962. He served three consecutive terms as a senator from 1963 to 1981. Always passionate about the environmental issues, he is associated with Al Gore, Karson Coker, and Steve Irwin. In 1963 he traveled on the Conservation Tour with President John F. Kennedy. Senator Nelson helped found Earth Day, which began as a teach-in about environmental issues on April 22, 1970.
During the same year, Nelson called for Congressional hearings on the safety of combined oral contraceptive pills, which were famously called "The Nelson Pill Hearings." As a result of the hearings, side-effect disclosure was required for the pill in patient inserts – the first such disclosure for a pharmaceutical drug.
Nelson was also a noted advocate of small business. While chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee, he led successful efforts to authorize the first modern White House Conference on Small Business, create the system of Small Business Development Centers at U.S. universities, and improve the way that federal agencies regulate small businesses and other small entities, the Regulatory Flexibility Act.
Life after politics 
After Nelson's 1980 defeat for re-election, he became counselor for The Wilderness Society in January 1981. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in September 1995 in recognition of his environmental work.
Nelson viewed the stabilization of the nation's population as an important aspect of environmentalism. In his words:
The bigger the population gets, the more serious the problems become…. We have to address the population issue. The United Nations, with the U.S. supporting it, took the position in Cairo in 1994 that every country was responsible for stabilizing its own population. It can be done. But in this country, it's phony to say "I'm for the environment but not for limiting immigration."
He also rejected the suggestion that economic development should take precedence over environmental protection:
The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment, not the other way around.
In 2002 Nelson appeared on To Tell the Truth as a contestant, with his founding of Earth Day highlighted.
Nelson grew up in Clear Lake, and was educated in the Clear Lake public schools. In 1939, he graduated from what is now San Jose State University in San Jose, California. In 1942, he received his J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School in Madison, was admitted to the bar and practiced law. He also served in the United States Army, seeing action in the Okinawa campaign during World War II. In 1948, he was elected to the Wisconsin State Senate, serving until 1958, when he was elected governor. He ran for the U.S. Senate in 1962, defeating long-time incumbent Senator Alexander Wiley. He was re-elected in 1968 and 1974, but was unseated by GOP candidate Bob Kasten in 1980.
Fraternity membership 
Nelson is an initiated member of Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity, having been initiated in 1971 during a trip to La Grange, Georgia, to promote the 2nd Annual Earth Day. Ron DeValinger, the chaplain of Pi Kappa Phi’s Gamma Nu chapter at LaGrange College, was a member of Nelson’s welcoming committee. DeValinger asked Nelson if he would like to join Pi Kappa Phi. Nelson said yes and was initiated later that evening as Gamma Nu’s 60th initiate.
Death and legacy 
Nelson died of cardiovascular failure at age 89 on July 3, 2005. Journalist Bill Christofferson's biography of him, "The Man from Clear Lake," was published in 2004 by the University of Wisconsin Press.
The Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison is named after him in recognition of his love for nature. In addition, the Gaylord Nelson Wilderness in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore – comprising over 80% of the land area of the park – was named after him in honor of his efforts to have the park created. Governor Nelson State Park near Waunakee, Wisconsin, is also named after him.
- Seaman, Barbara (July 2005). "A Planetary Loss. Senator Nelson had more than one string to his bow.". Healthy Skepticism. Retrieved 2007-03-11.
- "Earth Day founder sees some progress". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 2001-04-22. Retrieved 2007-03-11.
- Nelson, Gaylord (November 2002). Beyond Earth Day: Fulfilling the Promise. Wisconsin Press. ISBN 0-299-18040-9.
- Gaylord Nelson, Wisconsin Historical Society
- Biography of Gaylord A. Nelson "The Founder of Earth Day"
- "Gaylord Nelson | The Wilderness Society". Wilderness.org. 2008-10-22. Retrieved 2010-03-20.
- "Apostle Islands National Lakeshore – Gaylord Nelson Wilderness (U.S. National Park Service)". Nps.gov. Retrieved 2010-03-20.
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
- Gaylord Nelson and Earth Day: The Making of the Modern Environmental Movement – a narrative account of the origins of Earth Day, Gaylord Nelson's political career, as well as online access to dozens of documents from the
- Gaylord Nelson papers, 1954–2006 held by the Wisconsin Historical Society.
- Gaylord Nelson at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress Retrieved on 2008-02-06
- Christofferson, Bill,"The Man from Clear Lake: Earth Day Founder Senator Gaylord Nelson," The University of Wisconsin Press, 2004.
- "Beyond Earth Day: Fulfilling the Promise," by Gaylord Nelson, with Susan Campbell and Paul Wozniak, The University of Wisconsin Press, 2002.
- Gaylord Nelson (Gamma Nu) – Former U.S. Senator – Gaylord Nelson Biography.
|Wikinews has related news: Earth Day founder Nelson dies at 89|
Vernon Wallace Thomson
|Governor of Wisconsin
John W. Reynolds
|Chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee
Lowell P. Weicker, Jr.
|United States Senate|
|United States Senator (Class 3) from Wisconsin
Served alongside: William Proxmire