James Smith Nelson, M.D., passed away Sept. 21, 2016 with his family by his side. Jim was born March 19, 1933 in St. Louis, Mo., to Victor Nelson and Dorothy Smith. He was a graduate of Christian Brothers College High School and St. Louis University School of Medicine. He was a neuropathologist for more than 50 years and also served in the Army and Army Reserve for 20 years, retiring as a colonel.
He is survived by his sister, Catharine Basile, of Evergreen Park, Ill.; son Paul and daughter-in-law Helen of Virginia Beach; son Andrew of Brooklyn, N.Y.; grandchildren Sydney Simpson, Samuel Nelson, Gabrielle Nelson, Rachel Bowen and Kelly Hastedt; nephew Joseph Basile, niece Anne Basile; former wife Sandra Nelson and numerous cousins.
Jim was a lifelong researcher, having been an author on nearly 100 published papers – the most recent being this year – 24 book chapters and more than 64 abstracts. Areas of investigation included vitamin E, brain tumors and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. He was a professor of pathology at St. Louis University, Washington University and Louisiana State University, among others. He served as the director of neuropathology at Washington University and chairman of neuropathology at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.
In 1979, he received a U.S. Senior Scientist award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, which led to a yearlong family adventure in West Berlin.
Jim was the author or editor of several books but was most proud of “Principles and Practice of Neuropathology.” He also served on editorial boards and committees too numerous to mention – his CV runs for 30 pages.
And while his work gave him fulfillment, his greatest joy was being with family and doing things for them. He enjoyed fishing, travel, Cardinals baseball, Notre Dame football, Sherlock Holmes, spy novels, historical biographies, Sunday dinners and a glass of pinot grigio. He also possessed a quiet and sometimes devious sense of humor.
Jim battled a variety of health issues over the past few years and never stopped looking for solutions. But when the time of his passing came, he faced it with courage and grace. He was a Roman Catholic and a member of St. Mark’s in Virginia Beach.
A visitation will be held Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 9 a.m. at St. Francis Xavier College Church at St. Louis University (3628 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, Mo., 63108). The funeral mass will be at 10 a.m., followed by interment in Calvary Cemetery. Flowers may be sent to the church, or donations may be made to Freda H. Gordon Hospice & Palliative Care of Tidewater, 757-321-2242.Send FlowersPlant a Tree