Monday, June 08, 2009

Senior Center Advocate Passes

Word spread Monday that Charles Nelson, a staunch fighter for a new senior center, had passed away.
As Senior Center president, Mr. Nelson had been a regular speaker at City Council meetings through all the many proposals for a new center and never wavered in his resolve to see the seniors receive their very own building. Since 1989, seniors met in a leased space at 305 East Front Street. The lease ran out in 1999, but no new plan had been made for a new center and the rental arrangement straggled on.
When developer Glen Fishman proposed a 63-unit condo development with a senior center and veterans' meeting place on the ground floor, Mr. Nelson was in on every discussion of the plan. Seniors formulated their wishes for the new center and each month, Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs gave an update on the project, which she ceremoniously handed over to Mr. Nelson as head of the Building Committee.
Illness prevented Mr., Nelson from attending a May 20 dedication of the new site, but a large crowd held him in their thoughts.
On Monday, the mayor remembered Mr. Nelson and his quest.
"He fought as long as he could, with his illness, to make sure all seniors received the building they wanted," she said.
At her next monthly visit with seniors, the mayor said, she may discuss some way of including a tribute to Mr. Nelson in the new building.
The mayor recognized Mr. Nelson's role by having him countersign the contract for the new building as a symbol of the "full partnership" he promoted for seniors in the design of the new center.
Still emotional over the loss, the mayor recalled Mr. Nelson as being "very business-like, soft-spoken and kind" in his campaign for a new center, calling him "easy to get along with and easy to work with."
"I'm really going to miss Mr. Nelson," she said.
For Plaintalker's file with references to Mr. Nelson, click here.
Personal comment: Both as a senior center member and a newsgatherer, I had great respect for Mr. Nelson and I extend my condolences to his family.
--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Charles was a great man. He was one of the "students" in the American Literature courses I taught for Union County College at the Senior Center. During one semester, our focus was on 20th-century literature, with the theme "America in the 1940s." Charles's contribution to the class focused on the struggles of black unionists during that era, the fight for equality, and he shared great stories of his military service to our country. I had the opportunity to have several great conversations with him, and I will treasure them. He will be remembered as a strong and brave man. God bless him and his family.

The senior citizens space in the new condo building should be named after him as a tribute to his hard work.


9:09 AM  
Anonymous Dottie Gutenkauf said...

I will miss Charles very much. In addition to all his other many endearing qualities, he was a committed trade unionist and active in the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, which honored him a year or so ago.

Glad your techie got your situation fixed! I had a similar problem a few weeks ago and the Verizon tech solved that one too.

3:19 PM  

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