Cover photo for David P. Nelson's Obituary

David P. Nelson

d. September 24, 2020

David P. Nelson

David P. "Digger" Nelson, 73, passed away Thursday, September 24, 2020 at UPMC Hamot. He was born May 23, 1947 in Erie, a son of the late Rexford K. and Dorothy Blodgett Nelson.

David attended Strong Vincent High School, graduating in 1965. He was an accomplished athlete in his youth competing in swimming and track and field. While in high school, he was named to the Scholastic All-American swim team numerous times and swam many record times in individual events. He was the world record holder in the 60-yard freestyle and featured in the swim magazine, "Swimmers Ready". David was also the PIAA State Champion in the 50-yard freestyle and freestyle relay. As a member of the Colonel track team he was City Champion in several events and went on to be named "Athlete of the Year" by the Erie Coaches Association. He spent his summers as a lifeguard at Presque Isle.

He earned a swimming scholarship from Syracuse University where among his numerous wins he set a school record in the 50-yard freestyle. He was inducted in the Erie Sports Hall of Fame in 2006 and was one of the first to be inducted in the Northwest PA Aquatic Hall of Fame.

David attended Syracuse and Gannon Universities and received a degree in psychology. He worked for National Fuel Gas, retiring after more than 30 years. He was a skilled woodworker and loved to fish and golf with his boys. David cherished his time spent with family and friends.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his sister, Barbara Fitting and a brother, John Nelson, who died serving his country in Vietnam in 1969.

He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Mary M. Benacci Nelson; sons, Jon D. Nelson (Jennifer) and Robert K. Nelson; his sister, Marty Nelson; grandson, Jacob Nelson; bonus granddaughters, Lauryn and Ryleigh Robie; his brothers-in-law, Robert Benacci and Joseph Benacci (Sandy); and sister-in-law, Nancy Cox (Michael). "Uncle Digger" is further survived by his nephews, Tim Benacci (Jennifer), and Matthew Benacci (Allison); his niece, Alexandra Benacci; and many great nieces and nephews.

Friends are invited to call on Sunday at the John R. Orlando Funeral Home, Inc., 2122 Raspberry Street, Erie, PA 16502 from 3:00 p.m. until the time of service there at 7:00 p.m. Visitors are required to wear masks and abide by social distancing standards. In lieu of flowers David would want you to take someone you love out to dinner.

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


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