Richard Robert Nelson, age 96, died on Friday, March 22, 2019 at Shell Point Retirement Community in Ft. Myers, Florida. From his birth in Highland Park, Michigan on March 12, 1923 to Frank and Florence Nelson, to his death he reached out to people in his Church, community, family and retirement community as a teacher, helper, friend and caring person.
Mr. Nelson graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering, additionally gaining a Certificate in Advanced Electronics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Employed by AT&T in 1948, Mr. Nelson did Electrical Engineering work like lightning protection of telephone lines, coordination of telephone lines and power line construction, and detecting and eliminating electro-magnetic interference in telephone lines. Early in the 1960s, Mr. Nelson started working with mainframe computer technology and systems design. After having retired from the Bell System, Mr. Nelson went to work for Raritan Valley College in New Jersey in the position of Coordinator of Academic Computing for 10 years. During that time he established a joint venture with Jersey City College to provide a certificate program in computer education for the K through 12 communities. He was a pioneer in developing “Distance Learning” enabling students to gather study materials with virtual classes and on-line learning well before this practice became mainstream. After his move to Florida in the 1990’s, Mr. Nelson taught computer classes at Edison Community College in Punta Gorda, and later at Edison College in Ft. Myers.
Active in the Church, most notably Bishop Janes United Methodist Church in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, Mr. Nelson worked tirelessly for Bishop Janes Auction at the annual Kiwanis Fair, the Church’s Christmas tree sale during Advent and most notably “Nelson Nailers” – a youth group activity using hand tools “to build things out of wood.”
In 2002, Mr. & Mrs. Nelson moved to Shell Point Retirement Community in Ft. Meyers, Florida where he turned his interest to teaching computer classes for the residents of Shell Point. He was instrumental in guiding the development and growth of the Computer College which peaked with more than 200 residents taking classes each term. It is estimated that he taught more than 500 Shell Point residents during his term.
Mr. Nelson is survived by his wife of 70 years, Suzanne (nee Falvay), sons Kelly and Luke, 7 grandchildren, and 1 great grandchild. He was preceded in death by his son, Casey Nelson. The family will have a Celebration of Life service in New Jersey later this year. He leaves a warm spot in the hearts of many who had the privilege of knowing him.