1995 Inductee - Lela Chavez Nelson

1995 Inductee - Lela Chavez Nelson


One of the most energetic, optimistic and enthusiastic people you will ever meet! Lela was born on a train in New Mexico and her life has been a whirlwind ever since. She grew up in the Watts section of Los Angles and moved to Norwalk upon entering high school. She was an outstanding debater and speaker.

Lela attended college in Arkansas where she earned a degree in history and speech. While student teaching in Hot Springs High School she had a promising student by the name of Bill Clinton. Lela was active on the debate and tennis teams and in student government. Upon graduation, she joined the Peace Corps and served as a nurse, teacher and community activist in Carhuaz, Peru, and coordinated the Food for Peace Program in the Ancash Region.

Upon her return in 1964 she came to Stockton and met Bob Nelson…it was love at first sight! They were married two weeks and 3 days later. Lela at the time was teaching at Hamilton Middle School. When she became pregnant with the first of her four children, she decided to be a fulltime mother. It was during this time that she found served on the Board of Directors for the YMCA and Planned Parenthood. She was also one of the founders of the local National Women’s Political Caucus, and the first president of the California Democratic Women’s Caucus. She taught government to adults in the evening and was selected to 1972’s Outstanding Women of America. Lela became the first woman to run for state office in San Joaquin County. She ran in 1974 and 1976 in the Democratic Primary for the 26th Assembly District.

She became a realtor in 1977, and in 1983 she opened her own brokerage firm. She served on the Board for the Stockton Association of Realtors and was elected to serve as President of the Association in 1994. Lela has garnered countless awards in sales and has earned the prestigious achievement of Masters for 7 years. Lela has volunteered countless hours with the speech teams at Edison and Stagg High Schools; she served as volunteer coordinator for Su Salud in 1990, was a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, and was a founding member and Program Chair of P-FLAG San Joaquin. She gives motivational speeches before various organizations and schools.

In 1994, Lela closed her office and returned to being a Broker-agent. This gave her more time for three weddings and her grandchild. Her proudest achievement has been to be the mother of Christina, David, Jennifer, and Carin. In 1994 she had 3 more children to love: Todd Burgher, Chris Shore and Rae Ann Tourville…and a beautiful grandchild, Robert Warren Burgher!