Cover photo for John J. Nelson, Sr.'s Obituary
John J. Nelson, Sr. Profile Photo

John J. Nelson, Sr.

January 22, 1938 — July 17, 2023

Philadelphia

John J. Nelson, Sr.

John J. Nelson, Sr.
January 21, 1938 – July 17, 2023

John J. Nelson, Sr., age 85, of Philadelphia, PA, passed away on July 17, 2023. John proudly served his country in the United States Army. He was a very talented man who loved his job and achieved a lot throughout his career.

As commercial interior design became more prevalent in the 1960s and 1970s, Mr. Nelson was a pioneer. In 1977, he left his position as head of design and sales for John Wanamaker’s contract division to found what was then Nelson & Associates. In the ensuing years, he would be awarded some of the highest profile projects in the city of Philadelphia, including the headquarters of then Fidelity Bank (now Wells Fargo), SmithKline Beecham (GlaxoSmithKline), and Cigna Insurance, located on the very top floors of One Liberty Place, the building famous for breaking the previous height restriction in Philadelphia.

Growing his influence, his talents took him to a host of high-profile projects in New York, Chicago, and soon after, nationally. His progressive approach to design was both architectural and sculptural, often recognizable for its seamless integration with lighting. Mr. Nelson’s work was both award-winning and aligned closely to client need and program. Collaborating with manufacturers including Conwed, ASI, and Tuohy Furniture, he also designed products and furniture. Mr. Nelson began the firm's tradition of maintaining long-term relationships with clients, a practice that continues to this day.

As an extremely proud Philadelphian, Mr. Nelson not only loved design, but all things Philadelphia…literally to his dying days. He was complex man who came from humble beginnings, and he NEVER forgot the underdog. He was testament and inspiration to the notion that passion and hard work can take you as far in life as you desire. The IIDA John J. Nelson Sr. Legacy Scholarship Fund and Scholarship is just one example of his many efforts to pay his success forward. Another was his commitment to making himself available to mentor, or just chat, with NELSON teammates of any level.

Finally, Mr. Nelson was a devoted family man. Married to his wife Gen for 62 years and father to his two sons, he was also a grandfather of three and, one week before his death, became a great grandfather for the first time. He will be greatly missed by all.

Relatives and friends are invited to his Viewing 9:30-11:00 AM on Friday, July 21, 2023 at Old St. Mary Church, 252 S. 4th St., Philadelphia, PA 19106, followed by his Funeral Mass at 11:00 AM. Int. SS Peter & Paul Cem.

In lieu of flowers, Memorial gifts to the John J. Nelson Sr. Legacy Scholarship fund may be made through the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) via this this link, iidaprod.my.site.com/AssociationLightningMemberPortal/OrderApi__campaign?id=a0q6R000007uFC3QAM&site=a0d2K00000XthDVQAZ . Questions may be directed to Michelle Merry, mmerry@iida.org

 

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John J. Nelson, Sr., please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Viewing

Friday, July 21, 2023

9:30 - 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Mass

Friday, July 21, 2023

Starts at 11:00 am (Eastern time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Interment

Friday, July 21, 2023

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Guestbook

Visits: 689

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree