Gaylord Nelson

American politician and environmentalist (1916–2005)

Gaylord Anton Nelson (June 4, 1916 – July 3, 2005) was an American Democratic politician and environmentalist. He was born in Clear Lake, Wisconsin.[1]


Nelson was the 35th Governor of Wisconsin from 1959 to 1963. Then, he became a United States Senator and founded Earth Day in 1970. He left the U.S. Senate in 1980. He then worked in a non-profit organization called The Wilderness Society.

In 1995, President Bill Clinton honored Nelson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work helping the environment.[2][3]

Nelson died on July 3, 2005 in Kensington, Maryland of heart failure, aged 89.[1] The Gaylord Nelson Wilderness was named after him, in honor of his role in creating the park.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Seely, Ron (July 4, 2005). "A Wisconsin giant; Founding Earth Day one of many achievements of the former governor and senator Gaylord Nelson: 1916-2005". Wisconsin State Journal.
  2. "Nelson, Gaylord Anton".
  3. Aukofer, Frank A. "Gaylord Nelson: Earth Day founder was a voice crying out for the wilderness". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Archived from the original on January 31, 2006.
  4. "Gaylord Nelson Wilderness - Apostle Islands National Lakeshore". National Park Service.