March 17, 1931 — June 5, 2018
Edward Nelson Jr. was born March 17, 1931, to Edward and Hildur (Stenborg) Nelson of Worcester, Massachusetts. He died at his home in Astoria, Oregon, on June 5, 2018, at the age of 87.
After graduating from high school in Worcester, Nelson entered the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, graduating in 1953. While a cadet, he met his future wife, Joyce Lee Welsted, during the Cadet Aviation (familiarization) Training Program in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The two married on Feb. 3, 1954, in Elizabeth City.
Adm. Nelson served more than 36 years in the Coast Guard. He retired as commander, 17th Coast Guard District, where he was responsible for the entire Alaskan region, and as the 11th Ancient Albatross — the longest serving aviator on active duty. Before that, he was the 32nd superintendent of the Coast Guard Academy from 1982 to 1986.
He had served as chief of Officer Personnel in Washington, D.C.; commanding officer of Air Station Kodiak, Alaska; and commanding officer of Group Astoria, Oregon. His other assignments included chief of staff in Juneau, Alaska, and executive officer at Air Station Kodiak, Alaska.
He also performed flight duties at Air Stations Salem, Massachusetts; Argentia, Newfoundland; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Port Angeles, Washington; and deck watch officer duty on the Coast Guard Cutter Mendota, homeported in Wilmington, North Carolina.
After retirement, the couple settled in Astoria, Oregon, where Nelson was elected, and served two years as, a Port commissioner. He was a member of the library board, served on the board of trustees for Columbia Memorial Hospital for over 20 years, and was a trustee emeritus at the time of his death.
He also served on the national board of the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), and started a local MOAA chapter, serving as its president and as the state council president.
Nelson is survived by Joyce Nelson, his wife of 65 years; three children, Edward Darrell Nelson and his wife, Sherry, of Sun City, Arizona, Sandra Nelson and her spouse, Lizabeth Deichmeister, of Grand Junction, Colorado, and Keith Nelson of Lake Forest Park, Washington; four grandchildren, Cory Nelson of Sturgis, South Dakota, Andrew Nelson of Sturgis, South Dakota, Zachariah Nelson of Lake Forest Park, Washington, and Gabriel Nelson of Lake Forest Park; a sister, Marilyn (Nelson) Anzivino, and her husband, Joe; a sister-in-law, Barbara Nelson of Osterville, Massachusetts; and four nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his brother, Richard Nelson, of Osterville.
A memorial service will be held at the hangar on Coast Guard Sector Columbia River in Astoria at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 16, 2018.
Cremation arrangements are being handled by Caldwell’s Luce-Layton Mortuary of Astoria, Oregon.
Donations, in lieu of flowers, may be made to the Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association (cgaalumni.org) in his name.
His inurnment will be at the Coast Guard Academy Columbarium in New London, Connecticut.