Nelson Lewis St. Clair Jr.

October 11, 1935November 6, 2018

Nelson Lewis St. Clair Jr., “Lew,” 83, of Williamsburg, Va., passed away on November 6, 2018. He was preceded in death by his parents, Genevieve Statom St. Clair and Nelson Lewis St. Clair. He is survived by his wife, Patricia Rilee St. Clair; sons, Patrick Lewis St. Clair, Michael Scott St. Clair (Kelli Raines St. Clair); daughter, Debora Ann St. Clair-Niou (Stamford Niou); grandchildren, Grayson Michael St. Clair and Bryce Collin St. Clair; siblings, Joanne Rowland (Tom) and Richard H. St. Clair (Margaret); as well as a host of beloved family and friends.

Lew grew up on the base at Fort Eustis. A superb athlete, he co-captained both the baseball and football teams at Warwick High School, then co-captained the University of Richmond football team while attending on a four-year scholarship. He was active with the ROTC, and post-college joined the U.S. Army, serving six months as a Second Lieutenant and another seven years in the Reserve.

Prior to beginning his 42-year career with the Riverside Health System, Lew earned his Master of Hospital Administration from the Medical College of Virginia. He then served Riverside with distinction, guiding the growth and development of the organization through four decades. His 42 years of leadership as Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees, President and Chief Executive Officer resulted in the creation of one of the most successful nonprofit health systems in the nation. Lew’s brilliance was recognized early in his career, as in 1971, he was the recipient of the Robert S. Hudgens Memorial Award “Young Administrator of the Year” given by the American College of Hospital Administrators.

He assumed the helm of a single hospital in 1962 and developed that community resource into a multi-hospital system consisting of five hospitals, nine long-term care facilities, multiple retirement communities, five wellness centers, an array of outpatient facilities, a corporate physician organization, a joint venture with Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield and a shared service organization. Always at the forefront with his visionary focus on business development and leadership, Lew established a model system of community-led governance for each of the major institutions in the Riverside Health System, as well as the overall governance of the system. He extended the mission of the organization to serve the growing rural areas of Gloucester/Mathews and the Northern Neck of Virginia, and the people of these communities greatly benefited from the availability of superb hospital care.

Sharing the belief of several members of the local retired military community that creating America’s finest military retirement community in Williamsburg could be achieved, he led Riverside into very successful initiatives in retirement residential opportunities, further establishing his commitment to services for older adults and to the men and women who have served in the military. This included the development of Patriots Colony in Williamsburg, one of the most successful military retirement communities in America, and the redesign of Patrick Henry Nursing Home into Warwick Forest, the first full-service retirement community in the nation, a thriving campus of residential opportunities for older citizens. Lew set new standards in the health care field for the efficient use of shared services to economize the operations of health care institutions, leaving a legacy of excellence and sound organization that assured quality health care for this community for years to come.

Throughout his life, he also served on the Board of Trustees of the University of Richmond, Board of Directors of the National Council of Community Hospitals, with the Virginia Hospital Association, Blue Cross of Virginia, Bank of Virginia, Tidemark Savings Bank, as a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives, and was affiliated with other civic and community organizations.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, November 16, 2018, at First United Methodist Church, 10246 Warwick Blvd., Newport News, Va., with reception to follow from 12 to 2 p.m. A private burial service for the family will be held in Peninsula Memorial Park.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Riverside Health System Foundation, 608 Denbigh Blvd., Suite 700, Newport News, Va. 23608. Please use “Nelson Lewis St. Clair Jr.” for the memory line. Condolences may be shared at


  • Nelson Lewis St.Clair, Father
  • Genevieve Statom St.Clair, Mother
  • Patricia Rilee St.Clair, Wife
  • Patrick Lewis St.Clair, Son
  • Michael Scott St.Clair, Son
  • Kelli Raines St.Clair, Daughter-in-law
  • Debora Ann St.Clair-Niou, Daughter
  • Stamford Niou, Son-in-law
  • Grandchildren, Grayson Michael St. Clair and Bryce Collin St. Clair
    Siblings, Joanne Rowland (Tom) and Richard H. St. Clair (Margaret)
    As well as a host of beloved family and friends


  • Celebration of Life Memorial Service Friday, November 16, 2018
  • Reception Following Service Friday, November 16, 2018

Nelson Lewis St. Clair Jr.

have a memory or condolence to add?

Ann Hinman -Colby

November 12, 2018

I worked with Mr. St-Clair for 18 years at Riverside Hospital beginning as a new graduate RN in 1967. He was a wonderful boss, fair and consistent to everyone. He helped me professionally a great deal along the way. In retrospect I regret leaving the system, as the grass was certainly not greener in other hospitals. I know Mr. St Clair will certainly be missed by many, many people, as he was the best at what he did. God Bless you, Mr. St Clair.

Paul Gross

November 10, 2018

My deepest and sincere condolences to the family of Lou StClair. As a classmate at U of R, an fellow alum of MCV HA, and a colleague in healthcare, I felt Lou was the most admired and respected iconic health care executives in our Country, not to mention in the Commonwealth of Virginia. He emulated all the teaching of his M C V mentors Robert Hudgens and Charles Cardwell at such a level of admiration and respect that he was viewed as the one if not the most revered health executive of our generation. He will be severely missed.
Paul A Gross
Professor Emeritus MCV College Of Health Professions
Retired: President Hospital Division, Humana Inc