Tributes & Stories

 

Obituary (CA): Carl Alfred Nelson '56

Posted on 02/20/2018

Carl A. Nelson, Capt., USN, Ret. October 11, 1930 - February 3, 2018 Chula Vista Carl Alfred Nelson, Capt., USN, ret., age 87, of Chula Vista, CA, passed away February 3, 2018 from complications of Alzheimer's disease. Carl was born October 11, 1930 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Alfred and Isabel Younger Nelson. Following high school graduation, Carl enlisted in the US Navy and was sent to boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Training Station, Illinois. From there he was given the opportunity to attend the US Naval Academy at Annapolis. Following graduation in 1956, Carl married Barbara Long the following day in the Naval Academy Chapel. Carl spent over 33 years in the Navy; he enjoyed most his command of three ships: the guided missile cruiser USS Worden CG 18, the frigate USS Cook FF 1083, and the fleet salvage vessel USS Cocopa ATF 101. He served four tours of duty during the Vietnam War including one in-country as senior advisor to the commander of combat riverine operations in the Rung Sat Special Zone (RSSZ) and logistics base at Nha Be. His war decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with combat V, two Air Medals, the Combat Action Medal, and 14 others. Shore duty assignments included mentoring midshipmen at the Naval Academy and Army cadets at West Point. He was a natural leader. Besides San Diego, home ports for the family included Newport, RI, Washington DC, Japan, Hawaii, and Monterey, CA, for post-graduate school. Carl and Barbara, now with three daughters, discovered San Diego in 1963, leaving only for one tour in Japan. The family settled in; the girls graduated from high school and moved on to college and marriage; and Carl and Barbara decided to leave the Navy. Carl earned a doctorate in business administration from USIU (United States International University) and taught international business at various colleges and universities in the San Diego area. His prep notes from teaching became his first five books on international trade, one of which is still considered a top seller in the field. Writing fiction was more fun, and he published a series of five novels which roughly followed his Navy career. Carl wrote poetry, short stories, and professional articles, a play, a musical, and two memoirs. He garnered many awards for his writing. In 1981 Carl, as captain of the USS Worden in the South China Sea, rescued 44 Vietnamese boat people' ages infant to late 20s, whose boat was no longer seaworthy and who were facing dehydration, starvation, and possibly death. Fifteen years later they located him, have treated him as their honored parent, and even named a grandchild' after him: Carli Grace. Carl has been a member of the First United Methodist Church of Chula Vista, the Masons, the Veterans Museum in Balboa Park, and various other veterans' groups. He has been a member of the San Diego Writers and Editors and served several terms as president. Carl was a friend to all who knew him and will be missed greatly, not only by his families but by a special group of friends, classmates from the USNA Class of '56', with whom he celebrated many occasions and outings. In 2006 Carl married Dolores Hansen and inherited another family. Carl and Dolores spent 13 years traveling the world, playing golf, and fly fishing. Carl was preceded by Barbara, his wife of 48 years, and is survived by his loving wife Dolores. Carl leaves behind three daughters: Jennifer Ferguson (Fred), Allison Nelson, and Monica Askari; six grandchildren: Jocelyn Miller (Mark), Justin Askari, Kristina McCabe, Andrei McCabe, Adam Nelson, and Max Nelson; one great-granddaughter, Fayte Miller, and Dolores's extended family. Carl's services will be held Tuesday, February 20 at Fort Rosecrans at 9:30 am and at the First United Methodist Church in Chula Vista (1200 East H Street) at 11:30 am. In lieu of flowers, friends may donate to the Veterans Museum in Balboa Park (www.veteranmuseum.org/). October 11, 1930 - February 3, 2018

Published in The San Diego Union Tribune on Feb. 17, 2018