William J. "Bill" Nelson

  • Born: May 17, 1936
  • Died: April 25, 2020
  • Location: Lowell, Massachusetts

Gately Funeral Home

79 West Foster Street
Melrose, MA 02176

Tel. (781) 665-1949

Tribute & Message From The Family


Message From The Family

Thank you for your support during this difficult time. Please enhance this tribute to Bill by adding your memories..

Heaven has gained a special angel today.

He was 83 and a loving Son, Brother, Husband, Father, Grandfather, Great Grandfather (Papa) and Friend to too many to count. Today-as we have always joked, a man who fathered four girls but had one bathroom at home will not have to wait at the pearly gates-he will be welcomed and sent right through.

Bill lost his short battle with the horrific virus COVID 19, with his wife by his side, on 4/25/2020 at Fairhaven in Lowell Ma.

Bill was born to the late William and Grace Nelson on 5/17/1936 in Fall River/Attleboro and had one sister; the late Carol Jennings. He grew up in Somerville and graduated from Somerville HS, class of 1954, with his HS sweetheart Barbara Phimister (Nelson). They later married on 11/4/1956 and had an amazing 63 years together. Right out of high school, he went to work for the telephone company (MaBell…New England Telephone....Verizon) for 40 years and had hundreds of insulators/cobble stones to prove it; one of his many collections, which Barbara always loved. He never missed a chance to cause trouble/mischief wherever he was and whoever he was with. From Billerica, Burlington, Hudson Ma, Pine Street in Melrose, The A Frame, log cabins, and of course Shelia's Grove in Merrimack,-everyone he came in contact with has a funny "Bill Nelson Story". If you weren't laughing or smiling, you never really met our Dad/Papa... or you were the brunt of his jokes. Family, Faith and Friends meant the world to him and Bill and Barbara always made time for all three. He was an avid Boston Sports Fan-All of them! If the players could not hear him yelling through the TV we would be surprised.

He by far is the biggest Disney Fanatic we know; the Disney Cruise staff knew Him by name! He made sure to save up working 2 jobs to bring his family to Disney in 1976 and every couple years after that. He has inspired countless Disney vacations enjoyed by all four of his daughters and their families. He looked forward to every outing, whether it be to one of his grandchildren or great-grandchildren's events, or to grab a card and scratch tickets for Barbara.

He is survived by his loving wife Barbara; his four daughters/spouses; Lynne and Dan Shea, Gayle and George Sweet, Lori and Bill Chisholm, and Joanne and Dana Boisvert; his eleven grandchildren/spouses; Paul and Julie Shea, Laura and Julia Shea-Pelosi, Arkaide Shea, Samantha Sweet, Catherine Sweet, Bobby Chisholm, Danielle Chisholm, Brian Chisholm, McKenna Boisvert, Mallory Boisvert, Adeline Boisvert; and three great grandkids; Grover Shea-Pelosi, Lincoln Shea and Paxton Shea.

Due to COVID-19, Bill will be cremated. The time and location of his memorial service will be determined at a later date, so we can celebrate his amazing life with all of our family and friends, once we are allowed to return to our "new normal" life.

In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made in Bill's name to St. Jude Children's research Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105 or @ www.stjude.org.

Please send the family a card or drop a card at Gately Funeral Home.


Condolence & Memory Journal

To Barbara and the Nelson Family I was sorry to hear of Bill's passing. There are so many good memories of Bill at Sheila's Grove.

Posted by Bob Coughlin - Osterville, MA - Friend   April 29, 2020

Bill &Bob go back almost 80 years, so there are too many memories to sort through. We have lost our oldest,dearest friend. We feel like a member of our Family has passed. RIP Bill, you've earned your eternal rest

Posted by Bob & Marge Moriarty - Melbourne, FL - Family Friend   April 28, 2020

Barbara and family - we are so sorry for your loss. We met Bill and you at Laura's wedding. He obviously loved his family. Our hearts go out to all of you.

Posted by Cathy Langtry - Salem, NH - Acquaintance   April 28, 2020

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss, and glad I was able to see Bill and Barbara in recent times.

Posted by Diann Johnson - FL - Family   April 28, 2020

My thoughts and prayers are with all of you Nelson girls and family. I have wonderful memories of Mr. Nelson. Such a wonderful sense of humor! I would love when He and my Dad would joke, Dad on the porch, Bill in the driveway. Such fond memories. This must be so difficult for Mrs. Nelson. I know you will all all surround her with love.

Posted by Mary Claire - Fort Lauderdale, FL - Neighbor   April 27, 2020

I am so sorry Lynne and Dan. Your family will be in my loving thoughts and prayers .

Posted by Louise Doyle - Tyngsborough, MA - Friend   April 27, 2020

I didn't know Bill for very long but liked him from the moment I met him. I could see and feel the love he felt for his family and saw how he looked with pride at the littlest members of the family. Prayers for strength and peace to Barbara and family.

Posted by Linda Boisvert - Nashua, NH   April 26, 2020

I am so sad that Papa Bill is no longer with his family. I remember him as a kind and funny man. And he loved my pug Chu. He will be missed, his family and friends can fill their hearts with good memories. Godspeed Bill.

Posted by Marsha Morlock - Haines City, FL - Family Friend   April 26, 2020

Mr. Nelson was loved by all. He was always kind and good to me which I am sure wasn't easy since he knew me best during my teenage years growing up with Lori. He LOVED Christmas. And I couldn't wait to see the house after he finished decorating it with thousands of ornaments and Christmas themed things.There literally was not an inch of the house that wasn't covered with a Christmas trinket. It was amazing!
Though, my most distinct memory of him was the back photos. Before Lori and I would head out to our many proms, he would always want to get a picture of us together. Then he would tell us to turn around so he could get our best side. Lori and I have loads of pictures of just our backs! Mr Nelson was a wonderful father and husband. I feel very lucky to have had him in my life growing up. He will truly be missed.

Posted by Becky Reilly - Los Angeles, CA   April 26, 2020


The Gately Family and Staff wish to express our sincere sympathy to you. It is our hope that we may be able to make a difficult time more bearable. Please feel free to call on us at anytime as we are always available to you.

Posted by John W. Gately, John H. Gately & Fred Sprague - Melrose, MA   April 26, 2020


Family Album

Catherine and Papa Christmas 2019

Family Album


Family Album


Family Album

Bill and his girls

Family Album


Family Album


Family Album