Westport Island Remembers John Nelson

A friend to Westport Island and to those he engaged…

The Westport Community Church was full this afternoon with friends and family remembering John Jesse Nelson (1928-2014). He was remembered with love and with appreciation for his good.

John: husband to Ruth, father to their seven children, grandfather, WWII veteran, science teacher, friend, animal lover, neighbor, civic volunteer, John Deere operator and neighborhood road crafter…and active participant in the journey of life and learning. (Apparently, also a devotee of hats, tropical shirts and red carnations.) A man who felt proud to have earned the acceptance and respect of Westport Island families who have grandparents on the island. Although his history with the island “only” went back to 1968, he felt roots in the “rock”….

On the Island, John was a member of the Wright Landing Committee, believing in public access to the waterfront as well as a working waterfront; and he had served on the Conservation Commission and the History Committee. He kept up — reading the town report carefully enough to report typos to the Town Clerk — and he always participated actively in town affairs.

One of John’s sons pondered the idea of describing his father in one word, and he could not decide between complicated and contradiction. John was a man who was gruff and had difficulty expressing emotion, yet turned gushing and affectionate when Snafu, Leonardo or one of the long line of Nelson cats jumped onto his lap. He was extremely impatient in general, but infinitely patient as a teacher…

John’s most significant achievements in life were, of course, the love of a good woman, Ruthie, and seven children who — following his tutelage and caring – excelled, achieved and loved him. They are a credit and a legacy.

He gave his children, his grandchildren, and his students a road map for life:

Be as good a person as you can be
Respect your elders
Respect nature
Have a good work ethic
Be organized, be prepared
Pursue lifelong learning
Walk in another man’s shoes

As another son said, “A person lives until his name is no longer spoken.” It is likely that John Jesse Nelson is a name that will be remembered and spoken for some time to come…

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Posted on June 3, 2015, in People and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Dennis Cromwell

    John and Ruth are very good friends to all. John has stood up for many of us here on Westport in many ways. John used to ask me: “Dennis am I a native? I came here in the 60’s? ” I always answered ” John, you and Ruth certainly are! No question about it.” John was a very good man. We miss him stopping in and see him going by. RIP John and thank you for your service to this country.

  2. Caryl Nelson-Fitzpatrick

    This article and your comment are wonderful tributes to my father! We were heartened to see and meet so many caring Westport friends at the service. Thank you for your very kind words, Dennis.

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