In Memory

William R. Nelson

Bill was a life long surfer known for his kindness and passionate interest in cars and metal working. He lost his two year battle with cancer on May 7th. He enjoyed reliving the fun times with family and friends during his last months. He is survived by his wife Diane ‘73, sister-in-law Carol ‘70, brother Jim ‘73, sister Nancy ’67, and many more. Additional information to follow. 

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05/12/19 09:12 AM #3    

Luise Reith (Schofield)

This is sad. Loved Bill always the nicest guy. My heart goes out to his family, Rest In Peace Bill ☮️

05/13/19 07:43 AM #4    

Leo Herrera

Sorry to hear of Bill's passing, always loved this guy. He would always take the time to hang when we were in school togehter (and always loved to talk music with me) He surprised me when he popped up at one of my band's shows in Redwood Citya few years ago, always a pleasure! Bill my friend, you will be missed!

05/13/19 01:49 PM #5    

John D. Loftus

I was friends with Bill since 7th grade. He was a great friend who was always ready to help anyone in need. In senior year I was driving home about midnight after a night out, when I got a flat tire, right by the California side of Jordan. I couldn't get the first lug nut off. It was welded by rust to the bolt. Jeff Kewman thought Bill was home and called him. I think he even woke him up. Bill came and took the lug wrench to the nut and twisted it off including the bolt. Thankfully the others came off easier. That was Bill. Helping a friend at considerable inconvenience and what strength to twist the bolt off.

 We surfed together for many years and one year actually Thanksgiving day 1977 we were at Pleasure Point. I took off on a wave and some kook dropped in infront of me. He lost it and his board flew back and hit me in the head. I saw stars. I checked my head  and my hand came away bloody. Back on the cliff I was telling Bill and some others what happened and dizzy as hell I started to fall back. Bill grabbed the front of my wetsuit and pulled me back. I looked back and I would have gone over, down twenty or more feet to piled-up rocks. It's safe to say he saved my life .

None of his friends will ever forget his many strange cars,He didn't care for muscle cars; porsches, alpha romeos, an old 50s plymouth station wagon and some I didn't even know existed he was facinated with.

I talked to Bill a couple of times in his last days. The only complaint he had was no solid food. No complaints of pain or the prognosis. He didn't even talk much  about his illness. He did say getting old was a bummer. Bill was not only a great friend he was  kind and generous. -His friends ( there are many) will miss him. I wish his family , Dianne and all his friends comfoirt in the thought that we had him for all those years.

May we surf together again some day

05/14/19 07:34 AM #6    

Stephen Weston

I really don't know where to begin. Bill was the first friend I had after moving to Palo Alto from Seattle. We were both kida bullied at school, we were new and both wore glasses. Easy targets. I met Bill riding our bikes home from Jordan. The begining of a long lasting friendship. The first time both of us went surfing, Bills dad drove us to Santa Cruz and we rented boards from Ottos. We surfed at Rivermouth and it was huge. We couldn't even make it out and were content to just ride white water and try to stand up. That first trip with Bill that would evolve into years of surfing along with John Loftus, Scott Hallock, Jeff Kewman, and a few others. We surfed everywhere from Crecent City to Baja and hundreds of places in between. Surfing is what drove us and bonded us. Those years with Bill and that crew are the most memorable of my lifetime. When I first heard of his passing I just felt sick inside. He was the kindest, most honest person I have ever met. Like John said, he would do anything for you. Just the way he was. I haven't seen him in 35 years, but we kept in touch, sending Christmas cards and phone calls now and then. I spoke with him about a year ago after his surgery and treatments and he was very optimistic about making a full recovery. Always positive. Bill, I will miss you dearly my brother. May you rest in peace.

05/14/19 06:55 PM #7    

Marian Ruth Harriss (Pitts)

Bill was such a great guy. I have many fond memories of good times and music together.  So sad he's gone.

05/14/19 07:19 PM #8    

Luise Reith (Schofield)

05/15/19 09:56 AM #9    

Valerie A. Wiss (Milligan)

This is sad news, indeed.  I cannot think of a more decent or honorable person than Bill.  My heart goes out to those closest to him for this irreparable loss.

Of course my fondest memories are of going to the beach with Bill and Weston when they went surfing.  I was allowed the priviledge as long as I didn't ask to go to the Boardwalk or complain when we had to leave a perfectly sunny spot in search of a bigger swell.

A typical day involved their picking me up at the crack of dawn to head over the hill and secure parking at Pleasure's.  Bill always ducked into the little mart at the Point for some snacks, and then he and Steve would surf until mid-afternoon.  The trip home was not complete without a stop at Foster's Freeze on 41st Avenue where we would scrape up every cent from the pockets of our jeans and buy as much food as we could afford.  Simple pleasures from simpler times.  Wish we could do it all over again.

Rest in peace, dear friend.

05/16/19 08:01 AM #10    

Eric Seedman

I love reading all of the tributes to Bill. He and I were never close friends, but I did always enjoy his company when we talked. He had such a welcoming way about him - always eager to engage. Any time I spent time with him I came away feeling happy. He will be missed.

05/17/19 08:23 AM #11    

David Horne

I was very sad to learn of Bill's condition.  We shared a love of surfing in Santa Cruz, and this passion was what led us to build a life here.  I'm so glad that I was able to visit with him almost two years ago at a small reunion with a bunch of Paly grads in Capitola.  He showed me his funky little car (I think it was a Citroen 2CV).  It was clear how much he enjoyed this little car.  Such a interesting, kind, gental soul; Bill is missed.


  Image may contain: 11 people, including Matt Fishel, Kathy Christensen, Leslie Vyn Jones and David Horne, people smiling, people sitting

05/19/19 10:00 PM #12    

Gregg Selby

Bill was a good friend.  We met at Jordan and hung out together through our Paly years.  One summer, he lived at our house because he didn't want to spend another summer in Billings, Montana, where his dad was doing geologic field research for the USGS.  After Paly, he went with his family to Indonesia, where his dad was posted for a couple years.  From there, he moved to western Australia and surfed for the better part of a year.  He returned to PA with bolts of beautiful batik cloth that he had made while studying the art in Indonesia.  I still have a bolt of cloth he dyed. The other one he gave me ended up as curtains in my VW bus.  Bill drove down to La Jolla in his baby blue vintage Porsche to be best man at my wedding in 1976 – a true act of friendship.   14 years later, I got to witness his and Diane’s wedding.  We saw each other a handful of times after that – at reunions and at Diane’s family’s big red house in Capitola.  I was very fortunate to have the chance to visit Bill in early April. He was weak in body but his spirit was strong.  He gave me a tour of his latest automotive projects and he showed me some iron sculptures he had welded.  We reminisced for a while and then it was time to go.  He needed to rest.   As he walked me out to my van, he admired the fat-tire bike I was taking with me to the desert and he said he wished he could go with me but that I’d have to have fun for both of us.   I’ll try my best, old friend. 

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