Gaylord Anton Nelson was born in Clear Lake, Polk County, Wisconsin on June 4, 1916. He served in the Army in World War II, then went to Madison, Wisconsin to practice law. After serving two terms as governor in Wisconsin (1959-1962), he was elected as a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in 1963 and served in that capacity until January 1981. He served on the Interior Committee, the Public Works Committee, the Small Businesses Committee, the Finance Committee, and the Labor Subcommittee. There he became interested in issues concerning the environment, and is credited with founding Earth Day in 1970. He opposed the Vietnam War. He later worked with the National Wilderness Society in Washington, D.C. He passed away July 3, 2005.
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Nicoll, Don, "Nelson, Gaylord oral history interview" (2000). Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection. 299.