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Monday, September 15, 2014

FRANCIS NELSON Obituary

NELSON, Francis Page Jr., passed away at his home on Friday, March 15, 2013 at the age of 92. He was the third child, and first of four sons, born on February 4, 1921 in Crozet, Va., to Dr. Francis Page Nelson, M.D., and Ruth Lee Wayland. While death claimed his father in 1931, this tragic event helped to qualify son, Page, for admission to the Miller School of Albemarle in 1933, from whence he graduated with honors in the Class of '38. While a student at the University of Virginia, and with war clouds beginning to hang heavily over eastern Europe and Russia, Page decided to leave UVA early to ascertain which branch of the military service he would volunteer for. He realized that if he survived, he might return to UVA to complete his education. During the interim of decision-making, he became associated with the Federal Bureau of Public Roads, in a party surveying the Blue Ridge Parkway from the Humpback Rock area, , south towards the James River. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour in December 1941, Page felt the time had come, and a few weeks thereafter, he volunteered for the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was accepted. However, at that time, the pilot training schools were horribly overcrowded, and he was placed on an undetermined furlough for some months. Always one to help a friend in need, and with some months of time hanging heavily on his hands, he answered a local call from his friends, the Jessup family, to drive an inter-city Trailways bus as a relief driver, from Washington, D.C. to Burlington, N.C. on the New York City to Atlanta run. Regular Trailways drivers were being drafted into the military and the immediate need was acute. His first furlough ended, and he entered pilot training school. Upon completion of the same, he was assigned to the famous B-17 bomber, and was off to England to join the 8th Army Air Corps and the 384th Bomb Group. Some 11 missions later, he and his crew were shot down over Germany on January 30, 1944 with only three of the 10 crew members surviving. He was the last surviving member of that threesome. Some 16-plus months, he survived as a prisoner of war in Germany, near Barth on the Baltic Sea. He returned home at the end of the war and was granted a furlough to recuperate. Following 14 years of tour management with Trailways, he moved over to H.M. Gleason & Company, for the next 32 years in sales and management. Soon after his return to Charlottesville at the end of the war, he became acutely aware of community needs. His activity included helping to found the local vibrant charter of the Jaycees, and founding O.A.R and Camp Holiday Trails. For both of which, he served as president. In addition, he was a member of the City Planning Commission and served as president of the Chamber of Commerce. In 1960, the Governor of Virginia appointed Page to the Board of Trustees of the Miller School of Albemarle, his alma mater. His dedicated service lasted for 38 years because he was reappointed by succeeding governors, until he retired in 1998. His last 10 years, he served as chairman. A devout Christian, he served as vestryman and warden at Emmanuel, Greenwood, Christ Church and St. Paul's, in Charlottesville, and as an elder and deacon, at First Presbyterian in Waynesboro. In addition to his parents, Page was preceded in death by two sisters, Katherine Nelson and Elizabeth Nelson Robinson Mapp; and two brothers-in-law, Frank Robinson and John Mapp. Survivors include his wife, Ann; three sons, Page Jr., Scott and wife, Barbara, and Brent; stepsons, Stuart Craig and Robert Craig and wife, Andrea; five grandchildren, Giulia, Gian, Carson, Candace and Max; three brothers, Charles, Hugh and wife, Ann, three brothers, Charles, Hugh and wife, Ann,and Bob and wife, Judy; as well as a number of nieces, nephews and godchildren. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 17, at the First Presbyterian Church of Waynesboro. For those who wish to remember him, it was Page's last request that memorial gifts be made to The Miller School of Albemarle, 1000 Samuel Miller Loop, Charlottesville, Va. 22903. Arrangements have been entrusted to the Waynesboro Chapel of Reynolds Hamrick Funeral Homes. Family and friends are invited to share a memory, sign the guestbook and send condolences by visiting reynoldshamrickfuneralhomes.com.
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This obituary was originally published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
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Published online on 3/16/2013 courtesy of Richmond Times-Dispatch.