Donald Alfred Nelson

Donald Alfred Nelson

Died July 13, 2009

Don Alfred Nelson was born October 25, 1943 in Hartford, CT. He prepared at Bristol Eastern High School in Connecticut and majored in electrical engineering at Yale. Don was a member of Davenport, where he edited The Felon’s Head, and was active in the Political Union and several engineering societies.

Don earned his J.D. from Michigan Law School in 1968 and then served two years in the Commissioned Corps of the Public Health Service. In 1970 he became counsel for United Air Lines, a career choice which surprised none of his classmates who had known about his fascination and encyclopedic knowledge of the airline industry as an undergraduate. After eight years with United, he moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, to join the family oil and gas exploration, drilling and production company. He became president of Nelson Land and Exploration.

Don was slow to wed, marrying for the first time in 1986 to Teresa (Terri) Watson. Their children are Lars Watson and Lila Christine.

Don was quite involved in Shreveport cultural non-profit organization activities. He was a board member of Providence House, and the Shreveport Regional Arts Council. In addition, he served as president of the Shreveport Opera; and, as he commented 25 years ago in our classbook, “ [I am] enjoying our community and [I] have learned that when one makes a commitment, one is welcomed.” He also enjoyed wines as demonstrated by his 12 years of leadership in the Conferee du Chevaliers du Tastevin.

Don fought the neurological disease CADASIL, a hereditary stroke disorder, for 12 years while working to raise awareness of the disease and funding for CADASIL research. Ultimately, he died, on July 13, 2009 of this disease.

William Moonan remembers: I remember a roommate who was shorter than most of his classmates and not athletic. He had trouble fitting in, even to the extent that he majored in engineering in a college that was populated mostly by liberal arts majors.
His height lead me to advise him on choice of costume for a Halloween party we were having at D’port. We all were going in costume, but he couldn’t decide what would work for him. I immediately said he should go as the sleepy little boy portrayed in the Fisk Tire ads, the one in a long night gown, holding a candle in one hand, and a Fisk tire in the other. The heading for the ad always read: “Time to Re-tire!” I even have a picture of him so attired. (Sorry for the pun.)

But he was a good friend. We had a summer adventure together in 1964. We both had an opportunity to work in Europe as part of an exchange program; he in the Netherlands and I in Austria. At the end of the summer, I met up with him in Amsterdam where he took delivery of a Land Rover his father had ordered. After crossing the English Channel on a ferry boat, we motor toured through England and Scotland. We’d wake up each morning, and, only then, decide where we thought we should spend the next night. There were no advanced reservations made.

It was a fun trip, and he was a good companion.