Monday, March 15, 2010

Good-Bye, Grampie

Hugo Ragnar Nelson
March 6, 1910 to March 15, 2010

Hugo Ragnar Nelson, 100, died Monday March 15, 2010, in the Beaumont Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center, Westborough MA. He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Emily Keck Nelson, at their residence in the Willows Independent Living facility, Westborough MA.

Hugo is survived by his eldest son, Dr. William H. Nelson and his wife Rachel of Grafton MA, and their two sons: Dr. Michael W. Nelson of Grafton MA; and Jeffrey H. Nelson and his wife Joanna of Shirley MA. Hugo is also survived by his youngest son, James A. Nelson and his wife Susan of Wrentham MA, and their three daughters: Amy S. Wilmot and her husband Jason of Lakeville MA; Rebecca M. Graham and her husband Daniel of Lowell MA; and Jessica E. Whitmore and her husband Peter of Orange MA. Hugo has one great-granddaughter, Thea, of Orange MA, and was looking forward to the birth of four more great-grandchildren this summer, the first three boys and another great-granddaughter. Hugo’s older brother John A. Nelson pre-deceased him.

Hugo was born and raised in Jamaica Plain, Boston, graduating from Dorchester High School. His father Alfred was a drinking buddy of Babe Ruth, and brought him home to meet his two sons several times. Hugo was able to attend numerous Red Sox games free due to this relationship, and actually watched the Red Sox with his father when they won the World Series in 1918. He was a master woodworker his whole life. Working at several Boston area firms, first as an apprentice, then journeyman, and finally master pattern maker, and was a life long member of the National Pattern Makers Union. During World War II, he was employed as a Master Pattern Maker for the Boston Navy Yard metal casting shops. This employment led to one of the more interesting stories of his life, when he twice enlisted to join his brother fighting for their country overseas during the war, forcing the Superintendent of the Boston Navy Yard to track him down, giving several Navy Admirals the choice of un-enlisting Hugo and getting their warships repaired weeks sooner, or keeping Hugo as an enlisted man. The admirals chose the quicker repair of their ships both times. After the war, Hugo and his wife Emily moved to Hyde Park, Boston, where they raised their family and he worked for Sturtevant and Westinghouse for a number of years, before opening and running Nelson Pattern Works in Hyde Park for the rest of his working life. There, some of the most notable metal casting patterns he designed and made were for the compressor blades for Pratt and Whitney’s first jet engines, the molding machines for most Fisher Body car seats, the original mold for the eat-it-all ice cream cone, and the brass ornamental decorations at Plymouth Rock Historic site. Hugo and his family spent their summers at the family cottage in Plymouth MA.

Hugo was an avid golfer his whole life, and as a young man actually earned his spending money weekends as a golf hustler in pick-up games at the local golf courses in Boston, while planning on becoming a professional golfer. As an adult, he split his time between running his metal casting pattern making business and his golf game until his retirement in 1978. He and his wife than moved to Cape Cod, where he spent 30 years golfing, gardening, and shell fishing. As an ardent Red Sox fan he never gave up on them, always knowing that they would win the World Series again during their long drought. He rather enjoyed telling stories of those long ago wins to the younger Red Sox fans of today. At age 97, with all his golfing buddies gone, and the ocean just getting too cold for scallop raking every October, he and his wife moved to the Willows at Westborough Retirement Community to get away from yard work, and be near his son and grandsons in Grafton. He never really took to the leisure life style of the retirement community, which his wife loved, really missing the active athletic life that was no longer possible.

Hugo was cremated, and a service will be held this summer for the extended family at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Osterville, MA, followed by internment of his urn at the family plot in Cotuit on Cape Cod

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