Robert Norton Nelson

1 November, 194110 April, 2021

Robert Norton Nelson, PhD, Associate Professor of Chemistry

Dr. Robert N. Nelson, PhD, died at In Community Senior Care of Bowie of natural causes on April 10, 2021. He was 79 years old.

Dr. Nelson had a lifelong interest in chemistry and space. After obtaining his doctoral degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he began a long career as a college professor at Georgia Southern University. He spent many sabbaticals and summers engaging in research and designing equipment for experiments at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. When he retired from teaching, he moved to Bowie, Maryland, where he continued to engage in research regarding cosmic dust, among other subjects, at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center. He was a member of many chemical professional societies, and attended both Synagogue Oseh Shalom and Beth Aviv.

His other passions in life included genealogy, editing chemistry textbooks, traveling, and being a devoted husband to his wife, Mary F. Nelson. Dr. Nelson loved dogs, and especially rescue dogs. One of his favorite stories was describing how his childhood beagle would lie under an armchair and howl in synchronization with the siren calling out the volunteer firemen for North Tarrytown, New York, Bob’s childhood home.

He was the son of Dr. Norton A. Nelson and Rose Sarah Cohen Nelson. He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on November 1, 1941, and attended schools in North Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, New York. He graduated from Brown University with a B.S. and M.I.T with a PhD in Chemistry.

He is survived by his first wife, Anne Milbouer, and his two sons David (Jennifer) Nelson of Macon, Georgia, and Aryeh (Antonia) Nielsen, of Petaluma, California. He is also survived by his beloved second wife of 31 years, Mary F. Nelson, and his sister Margaret (Ron) Nelson of Ithaca, NY. He has three grandchildren, Elizabeth Nelson and Lanier Nelson of Macon, Georgia, and Anja Nielsen of Petaluma, California.

In lieu of flowers, contributions to the Maryland SPCA or Bowie Claw would be appreciated.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Robert Norton Nelson

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