When Willie Nelson had knee surgery in the 1980s, all the nurses came by to find out if they had a real, live celebrity in their hospital.
It turns out they didn't, after all. The patient was Willie R. Nelson, who lived in Lodi at the time and has since crossed the canal into Woodbridge.
And yes, people sing his namesake's big hit, "On the Road Again," to the Willie Nelson who lives in Woodbridge.
A retired postal carrier and school bus driver, Nelson was appointed in December to the Woodbridge Sanitary District board to replace Dwight Langhoff, who resigned in November.
Two other residents applied for the vacant seat — Doug Field and Charles Stocker.
The sanitary district provides sewer service for Woodbridge residents and businesses. It also the authority to approve garbage rates in Woodbridge.
A 21-year resident of Woodbridge's Wine Country neighborhood, Nelson said he appreciates the community's low sewer rates.
"I'm very conservative, and I'd like to keep it that way," Nelson said.
Nelson, who takes his seat on the board on Jan. 11, admits he has a lot to learn, though he is aware of the controversy surrounding the district, especially a scathing report by the San Joaquin County Grand Jury about operations in the Woodbridge Sanitary District.
"I don't really know that much about (the district)," he said. "I'm a fast learner."
As Nelson sees it, his appointment is only for one year because Langhoff's term was to expire in December 2012. Nelson said he'll decide when the filing period comes up in mid-July whether he wants to seek a full four-year term on the board after the November 2012 election.
Born in North Dakota, Nelson moved to Lodi in the mid-1950s. He was a postal carrier for 31 years in Stockton and Lodi before driving a bus for the Lodi Unified School District from 2004 until retiring in June 2010.
An Army helicopter crew chief in the Vietnam War, Nelson is a member of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. He served on the St. Peter's School board and the board of evangelism at St. Peter Lutheran Church in the 1980s. He still attends the Lodi church. His hobbies include yard work, hunting, fishing and biking.
Nelson and his wife, Vera V. Nelson, have been married for 45 years.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at email@example.com.