Richard Burton Nelson, Sr. - Spicer-Mullikin Funeral Homes & Crematory

Richard Burton Nelson, Sr.

Born August 15, 1930

Richard Burton Nelson, Sr., a former DuPont Company manager, passed away June 14, 2015, at his home in Newark, Delaware. He was 84 years old.

Richard was born on August 15, 1930 in Putnam, Connecticut to Freeman Ruben Nelson and Dorothy Woodbridge (Burton) Nelson and was raised on the family farm in Pomfret, Connecticut. Like many who lived during the depression, he understood the value of hard work. As a young lad one of his first jobs was trapping and selling skunk skins to Sears, Roebuck, Inc. Working for the town of Pomfret and also for local farmers kept him busy before graduating from high school and joining the Navy.

He proudly served four years in the U.S. Navy Special Forces, including the Korean War and was honorably discharged in October, 1952. That year he enrolled in UCONN and during his four years there, he spent summers working at Basin Harbor Club in Vermont. Richard received an Engineering Degree with Honors from the University of Connecticut.

Following college, Richard held various management positions in the DuPont Company, both at the Chambers Works and in the Wilmington corporate office. He received numerous awards and commendation letters during his 30 years with DuPont. He retired in 1985. After retiring, he started Fairwind Associates, a high quality consulting firm.

Richard has a long record of interest in education and service to youth. He is remembered in the community for his work with Junior Achievement, membership on the Newark Delaware Board of Education, and as founder and chairman of the Delaware Educational Resources Association. He is a recipient of the Freedom Foundation Award for his work in rejuvenating Junior Achievement in Delaware through deep involvement of individual school districts within the organization. The plan he developed became a model for Junior Achievement chapters throughout the nation. He received the award in Gettysburg, along with John Wayne.

In retirement, Richard worked as a volunteer in Parents Without Partners Chapter 121 as Coordinator of Program Development and Implementation, receiving the chapter’s award for Outstanding Member. Along with his wife Phyllis, he developed a 13-week program to help individuals rebuild their lives after the ending of a relationship. Leading groups through the program, they touched the lives of over 700 individuals.

A competitive sailor and a member of the Georgetown Racing Fleet on the Sassafras River, Richard won many trophies there and during Atlantic City Race Week. As a U.S. Navy Korean War Veteran, he is a life member of the VFW Post 475 Newark, Delaware. He also served several years as U.S. Coast Guard Academy recruiter and Homeland Security Advisor. During his 65-plus years of service in the USCGA he served as a Flotilla Commander and also received the Outstanding Member award.

He leaves behind his beloved wife, Phyllis Edwards of Newark, DE, his daughter, Cynthia McNelly (Roy) of Georgia, his son, Richard Nelson, Jr. (Jennifer) of Newark, DE, Phyllis’ daughter, Katherine Tome (James) of North East, MD, Phyllis’ son, Russell Edwards (Sheri) of Elkton, MD, his brothers, Donald Nelson (Maryanne) of Temple, Texas and Peter Nelson (Elaine) of Pomfret, CT and his six grandchildren and three nieces, and Phyllis’ three grandchildren.

A Life Celebration will be held at 12:30 pm on Wednesday afternoon, June 24, 2015, at the Spicer-Mullikin Funeral Home, 121 West Park Place, Newark, DE, where a visitation for family and friends will be held from 11:30 am until 12:30 pm. Interment will follow in the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery, 2465 Chesapeake City Road, Bear, DE.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Newark Senior Center, 200 White Chapel Drive, Newark, DE 19713.


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9 Condolences for Richard Burton Nelson, Sr.

  • I have had the pleasure of being a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary for only a few years but have met and worked with some fantastic men and woman, many of whom have also served in our military. I am sorry for your loss and know that our auxiliary will hold your husbands memory in high esteem. I wish I could join our members in celebrating his life but I have other obligations. Best Regards. Bruce Grissom

  • On behalf of U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, please accept our sincerest condolences. Dick’s over 65 years of service and contributions to the public and his fellow members will long serve as testament to his generosity and spirit. We wish him the traditional sailors farewell of Fair Winds and Following Seas. To you, Phyllis and his family and friends, we offer our gratitude for sharing Dick with us. He will be missed deeply.

  • Dear Phyllis,

    You are so very lucky to have found such a great man for even 25 years! He was so sweet, lovable and we loved his sense of humor. We will miss both of you greatly! We need to hire you to organize all of our patient’s charts like you did so with Richard’s. You were one of the best care giver’s I’ve seen and I knew his place in heaven is looking down at you with much love and thanks!! Take care! I am so sorry for your loss, but I am glad he went in his home!


  • Phyllis,

    There are no words that can be said more than what you wrote. Mr. Nelson was and remains for us a hero. He met so many challenges with such dignity, strength and perseverance. You were always at his side meeting every one of his needs unflinchingly and always pouring out strength without limits. I hope that with time you will find increasing comfort and blessing in the wonderful memories he has left you. He will always be at your side.

  • Do you know if anyone from the USCGA will be willing to say a few words at Dick’s service?

  • Bruce, thank you for your kind words and for your service as a volunteer.


  • It was my pleasure to know Richard. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

    Paul Weber

  • I often read your emails, but this morning I felt a need to write you back….and now I see this email. I am sorry that he passed away. You are right, he was amazing….. and hysterical…. I’ll never forget how he hid his candy wrappers all through the PT clinic…it makes me smile every time I think of that!

    When I think about friends and family who have passed…. I can’t help but think…they are surrounded by angels…dancing in the streets of gold…rejoicing, free of illness and the trials and tribulations life has to offer. You two will meet again…this we know…until then try to find peace and comfort in all of your wonderful memories of those 25 glorious years together.


    Kelly Danks, Physical Therapist

  • Phyllis .

    You were Dick’s Guardian Angel, the love you both shared was so beautiful. Dick accomplished much in his career. He always had a smile and was happy in the Newsletters pictures.
    Phyllis cherish the good times during this most difficult time it really helps.