Remembering Melvin C. Nelson (1927-2021)

Please share your tributes, recollections and photos in the comments section below.

Mel Nelson was born in Kearny, New Jersey in 1927. He was an only child, grew up in a Swedish immigrant family and in an immigrant neighborhood. He went to a Swedish Baptist Church until he was about 10 years old when the family made the switch to an American Baptist Church. He was a Boy Scout and had a band of friends in the neighborhood who roasted “mickeys”(apples pilfered from a neighbors tree) and swam in the meadows (read “swamp”) nearby. He was proud of the fact that when he visited his ailing grandparents in California, he taught the local kids how to make slingshots. The birds, squirrels, windows and parents were probably not very happy with this East Coast Technology transfer. Dad graduated at 16 because he skipped 2 grades in elementary school. He got right to work as a chemical technician.

Mel at age 17.

Dad joined the Navy at 17 in early 1944 and was trained as a Navy Corpsman. His job was to help out in hospitals and to assist in Marine landing as a medic. He was bound for the Pacific theater to assist in the invasion of mainland Japan when Truman dropped the bomb. He feels very fortunate to have missed out on that potential action and instead spent the rest of his time stateside in Navy hospitals.

He met his wife Anna-Maria Nelson when she was 15 and he was 19. They met at a Swedish summer camp and on their first date he asked her if she could cook and sew. They spent the next 4 years dating at a distance while Dad attended the Newark College of Engineering where he earned his BS in Chemical Engineering. They were married and had 2 children, Gail and Edward, and lived in central New Jersey. Anna-Maria stayed home and raised the kids.

Life at the shore kept Mel young and strong.

Mel had several jobs as a plant engineer making urethane foam. He describes his job as one of “fires, fumes and explosions.” He and a 2 other men started a small company to compete with his former employer and so he was a Vice President of Production. In his late 50’s he left his job, bought a marina at the Jersey Shore and rented boats and slips for a few years. Later, he took a job as a coastal engineer and designed sea walls along the Jersey shore. At 62, they retired to North Carolina, then to Sarasota (which is still a place in their hearts) then came to Katy to be close to Ed and Janis. Mel went to be with the Lord on December 23, 2021 after he died of simple old-age. He was quite strong and aware up until about a month before his passing. He enjoyed singing such songs as, “The Old Rugged Cross”, “This Land is your Land”, and “Nidelva”.

During his long and happy life he was: a Boy Scout Troop Leader, Chemical Technician, Navy Corpsman, Chemical Engineer, Registered Professional Engineer, Plant Manager, Vice President of Production, Marina Owner and Dredging Engineer. He was a Baptist, a Lutheran, a Presbyterian and then finally a Baptist at Kingsland Baptist Church. He was a Mason and achieved the rank of Worshipful Master, and a member of the Shriners.

Mel and Anna-Marie had 2 children, 5 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.

For a short (30-page) family history, download and read The Memoires of Melvin Nelson (2015). Part 2 of this book also includes “Recollections” from Melvin’s family (children, grandchildren, etc.) offering an even fuller picture of his life.

View and Download “The Memoires of Melvin Nelson”

Please share your tributes, recollections, and photos in the comments section below. Gail has written several tributes to her father on this site over the years. See the following entries to read more about Mel from the eyes of her daughter: