March 9, 1928 - June 12, 2021
Elijah L. Nelson, retired professor emeritus of Campbell University and resident of Buies Creek, passed away and flew to the heavens and universe on Saturday, June 12, 2021, at the age of 93 at Wake Medical Center.
Elijah is survived by his daughter, Debra Nelson Taylor (Rick) of Vashon Island, Seattle, Washington; and a son, Kevin L. Nelson (Sabra) of Dunn. He is a grandfather to Jonathon Taylor of Seattle; Rebecca Taylor Clemmon (Mickey) of Sydney, Australia; Jennifer Taylor of Boston, Massachusetts; Morgan Pierce of Clayton; and Anna Nelson Sprouse (Cameron) of Sanford. He is a great-grandfather to Adeline and Clover. He was predeceased by his wife, Patsy Ruth Miller Nelson.
Elijah was born in Stacy, North Carolina, to Willie Nelson and Angie Mason on March 9, 1928. At the age of 4 and after the 1933 Hurricane, the Nelsons moved to Morehead City. As he said with a great laugh, “We floated.” He held degrees from East Carolina University and the University of Florida-Sarasota with graduate work from the University of Colorado-Boulder, all in the natural sciences and physics-science education. He served in the U.S. Army post World War II in Germany with Occupational Forces during the Korean War.
He was a devoted educator who loved being a university professor for over 35 years between 1956-1992. His passion was astronomy/physics and anything about the universe and space. He was definitely a “Star Trek” fan and witness to Project Apollo. He counted as his greatest achievement to “teach the sciences” to future teachers in public and private schools throughout the state and nation. He loved to sit at the Campbell University Coffee Shop and converse with his colleagues, students, as well as the Physical Plant maintenance and housekeeping staff on all topics of the day. He was a longtime member of Lillington United Methodist Church where he taught the Brock Adult Sunday School class for many years. He will be deeply missed by his family and former students. He loved reminding people, “You are better off to laugh, than to cry.”
A graveside service will be held at 9:30 a.m. Friday, June 18, at Westview Cemetery in Lillington. The family will receive friends at the cemetery following the service. Friends are invited to visit O’Quinn-Peebles-Phillips Funeral Home on Thursday, June 17, between the hours of 1 and 5 p.m. to pay their respects to Dr. Nelson. The family will not be present.
In accordance with current North Carolina COVID-19 guidelines, the funeral home requests that everyone in attendance practice social distancing.
The family wishes to express deep gratitude to his caretaker, Lydia Smith of Dunn, for her many years of taking care of him at the end of his life, as well as the staff at Cadence of Garner.
In lieu of flowers, the family request memorials to be made to the Campbell University Friends of the Library or Lillington United Methodist Church.
Arrangements by O’Quinn-Peebles-Phillips Funeral Home & Crematory, Lillington. Online condolences at www.oppfh.com.