School 30

Richard (Dick) Lewis Nelson

October 27, 1931 ~ March 13, 2020 (age 88)


Richard (Dick) Lewis Nelson of Orangeburg, NY passed away on Friday, March 13, 2020 at the age of 88.   Born October 27, 1931 in South Dayton, NY to Fred and Anna Grace Nelson.  Graduate of Buffalo College Dick went on to earn a M. ED from NYU.

Dick married the love of his life, Sue (Crosby) on April 18, 1965.  They spent over 55 years together.

After working for General Electric Dick went on to be a medic in the Army where he was stationed in Germany.  Upon return he worked for 38 years as a teacher (shop/technology) for the Pearl River School District.  His love of teaching and space led him to create the Pearl River model rocketry club (the Vulture Squad) which played host to the nation’s largest model rocketry seminars and earned him the President’s Award for service to the National Association of Rocketry.  The Pearl River seminar was featured on the TODAY Show in correlation with the early space shuttle launch.  Dick was also a contributor to the design of a robotic arm on the shuttle and a leader in the aerospace program for CCNY.  Active in the Civil Air Patrol Dick was the recipient of the prestigious Frank G. Brewer award. 

When he wasn’t teaching you could find Dick running the rocketry and woodworking program at Deer Mountain Day Camp for many summers.  In his spare time, he liked to fly planes, soar in gliders, enjoy the circus arts, amusement parks, and pretty much every ice cream stand and candy shop up and down the east coast.  He was passionate in promoting music and the arts in public schools.  Dick remained a devoted member of the church.

Dick’s life was an honest one, he was humble and made sacrifices to take care of family and friends first.  He rarely made a fuss about it – this was his role, and he gladly did what he could even when times were tough.  He was a husband, a father, a community leader, a mentor and a friend to many - a good man.   Richard “Dick” Nelson will forever be the Rocketman.

He is survived by his loving wife, Sue; two daughters, Ruth (Joseph) and Rebecca; and granddaughter Olivia DiCasoli.

A celebration of life will be held in the Spring.

In lieu of flowers donations may be made in Dick’s memory to the Bindlestiff Family Circus program ( or Helping Hands of Rockland (

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