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It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our Father, Grandfather, and Great Grandfather William “Bill” Edwin Nelson on November 2, 2023, at the age of 85. Bill passed suddenly at his home on that beautiful day upon returning from a morning of shrimping, blessed with being able to take one last trip. Born on April 11, 1938, in Escatawpa, MS, to H. E. “Hubby” and Ora Nelson, Bill is preceded in death by his second wife, Evelyn Nelson; his brother, H. E. “Hubby” Nelson, Jr.; his sister and brother-in-law Jerri and George Lutsch; and his son William “Bill” Nelson, Jr.
Bill is survived by his first wife, Marilyn Bullis; children Donna (Ronnie) Lollar, Captain Dave (Melanie) Nelson, and Theresa (John) Feller; Grandchildren Jackie Lollar, Ronnie (Theresa) Lollar, Amanda (Brad) Reitmeyer, Savannah Nelson, Nicole Noblitt, and John Noblitt; Great Grandchildren Brody Reitmeyer and Brinlee Reitmeyer; sister-in-law, Nell Nelson; and special friend Jason Scott. He is also survived by a host of nephews, nieces, and so many, many friends.
Bill had several jobs throughout his lifetime, starting at childhood as a golf caddy, a paperboy, and at the bowling alley replacing bowling pins. As a teenager, he found his love for the water. He could be found at the Pascagoula docks daily, shucking oysters and doing other jobs at the fish houses along the Pascagoula River. After graduating high school, he began working at Ingalls Shipbuilding as a machinist. He worked there until Standard Oil Refinery, now Chevron Refinery, was built in Pascagoula in 1963. Bill was the very first employee hired from Pascagoula. His application was selected from thousands filed with the state employment agency in Pascagoula, passing three employment tests, was interviewed by chief engineer Jim Hayden and shop foreman Les Haynes. He would work for Chevron until his retirement. He traveled the world as a consultant for new and existing refineries.
Bill graduated from Pascagoula High School in 1957. He loved to talk about his high school football days where he played center. Bill served his country in the Army for two years from 1961 to 1962. He began his service as a cook, but once they learned of his machinery skills, he quickly became a machinist. He served for a number of years with the Army National Guard, stationed at Fort Rucker, MS.
Bill had a love and a zest for life, with family being the most important thing to him. He loved any activity that involved the water: shrimping, fishing, oystering, crabbing, and teaching his children to ski on Krebs Lake. Bill loved the Atlanta Braves, the New Orleans Saints, and the Ole Miss Rebels. He was known by many as the “Shrimp Man,” selling his daily catch fresh from the boat on River Road in Moss Point. His customers became his friends. He was an avid reader of Louis L’Amour westerns and history books, learning about the Civil War being his favorite.
Bill was loved and admired by so many, and he will be missed beyond measure. His wisdom, his kindness, his moral code, his wit, his undying love for his family, these things will never be forgotten. He always strived to be the best version of himself and “to do the right thing.” He succeeded in doing so every day of his life.
We would like to extend a special thank you to Dr. Hugo Quintana and the nurses at the Congestive Heart Failure Clinic for their loving care and support.
Visitation will begin on Monday, November 6, 2023, at 11:00 a.m. at First Baptist Church in Pascagoula, followed by a celebration of life at 1:00 p.m. Interment will be at Machpelah Cemetery in Pascagoula. Pallbearers will be Ronnie Lollar, Jr., John Noblitt, Brad Reitmeyer, Ken Nelson, Craig Nelson, Scott Nelson, and Jason Scott. Honorary pallbearer will be Jeffrey Lutsch. O’Bryant O’Keefe Funeral Home is in charge of all arrangements.