The Obit For Ralph Nelles

Billings Philanthropist Nelles, 90, Dies Sunday

The Billings Gazette, Sunday, June 28, 2009.
By Becky Shay, Staff Writer

Ralph Nelles, a Billings philanthropist who donated to nursing and sports, died today.

Nelles marked his 90th birthday last December by giving a check for $550,000 to St. Vincent
Healthcare to support nursing education.
The donation made a total $2.5 million that the Nelles family has donated for nursing scholarships at St. Vincent.

Central High honored Nelles and his wife, Audree, in 2000 for their donation to the Ralph Nelles Activities Center at the Catholic school.

The long-time Billings businessman served as president of the Pioneer League for 19 years. The baseball league's most valuable player award is named for Nelles.

"Everyone who has been successful in the community has got to give something back," Nelles said in 2005. "This is a great community."

Nelles created a temporary scholarship program for nursing students that was started in 2002 with a $325,000 gift that was matched by the hospital foundation.

The first scholarships were awarded in the fall of 2003.

Nelles nurses receive $2,500 per semester of school for up to five semesters. In exchange, they agree to work at St. Vincent Healthcare after graduation. For each semester that a student is a Nelles scholar, he or she agrees to work for one year at St. Vincent for up to four years.

The Nelles Nurse Scholarship Program was perpetuated it 2006 when the couple made a $1.5 million endowment.

Funeral services are pending.