MACHIAS – On Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010, Norman W. Nelson Sr. lost a short, intense battle with illness. Norman was born in July 1918, in Eastport. The family moved to Machias, where he attended the Rawson and Hemenway schools. At age 16, after his father passed away, Norman left home on the three-masted schooner, Lucy Evelyn, becoming the primary wage earner for his family. Volunteering for the U.S. Army in April 1941, Norman was one of the brave souls who landed at Normandy on D-Day. He was honorably discharged in September 1945, after serving four years, four months, 17 days, and participating in five campaigns of the war. After returning to Machias he married Nancy Hooper in 1947, raising two sons. Norman had an extensive and varied work experience. He worked for Dicenzo Co. He served with Machias Police Department, was a projectionist at Colonial Theater and Maineland Drive-In at night, and read water meters during the day. He served as fire chief and drove school buses. As an independent contractor, he painted many of the homes in the Machias area and was in great demand as the best wallpaper hanger in Washington County. For many years he was a familiar voice on radio stations, WMCS and WALZ FM. Norman was a licensed auctioneer. In the late 1960s he took to the skies, obtaining a pilot’s license. Norman also worked as a rural mail carrier. Norman ran a small taxi service, as well as ferrying cars to Florida. He served as an emergency medical technician with Machias Ambulance Service; his most vivid experience coming when he and his partner were driving an expectant mother to Ellsworth. Reaching the outskirts of Machias, he realized that he and his assistant were facing an imminent birth. He made an emergency stop on the roadside in Jonesboro and assisted in a potentially dangerous delivery. As Norman told it, there were tears streaming down his face when that baby boy began to cry. Norman and his wife, Nancy, owned Down East Inn on Center Street. They ran off-campus housing for University of Maine at Machias, students. He belonged to Veterans of Foreign Wars, was a member of the Masons, was a Shriner, was a charter member of Machias Lions Club, and served on the board of Downeast Health Services. He served as Democratic state committee representative for Washington County, and was a delegate to state conventions. An accomplished actor and singer, he performed in more than 40 local productions. For many years he organized and marched in parades as a perfectly made-up and costumed red-haired, red-nosed clown. He was chair of Machias Blueberry Festival for many years, and performed in all the festival musicals. At the time of his death, he was serving on the board of directors of Eastern Agency on Aging, the board of Downeast Resource, Conservation and Development District, was a selectman in the town of Machias, as well as treasurer of Downriver Theater Co. He was a strong tenor in the UMM chorale and also the choir at Centre Street Congregational Church, where he served as deacon, trustee and moderator. Norman was the senior member of UMM’s Ukulele Band. In his last performance in October of this year, he wowed the audience at the Performing Arts Center at UMM with his famous rendition of “Roll ‘em Girls, Roll ‘em.” A man of great talent and extraordinary life experience, he gave much of his adult life to his community, his state and his nation. He never lost his passion for life and continued to be a lifelong learner. He was truly a man for all seasons. He will be greatly missed by family and friends. Norman leaves behind sons, Norman Jr. “Dusty” and wife, Becky, and Carl “Sandy” Nelson and wife, Mary Jo; grandchildren, Jeremy, Talie, Tristen and Gina; great-grandchildren, Tanner and Aiden; as well as other family members. A memorial service will be held 2 p.m. Monday, Dec. 27, at Centre Street Congregational Church, with a reception after in the vestry of the church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Norman’s name to Downriver Theater, P.O. Box 75, Machias, ME 04654 or Centre Street Congregational Church, Machias, ME 04654. <>
NORMAN W. NELSON SR.
Posted Dec. 17, 2010, at 7:42 p.m.