French Horn to Finance
David W. Nelson was a maverick and an iconoclast in the best way, friends and family say. He was also intellectually and emotionally adventurous. "You don't have to have just one career in your life," he once told his mother, Betty. And he didn't.
Most recently, Mr. Nelson, 50, was a senior vice president at Carr Futures. But high finance was not always in the cards for Mr. Nelson, who lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with his wife and two children. After graduating from Johns Hopkins in 1973, he became a social worker in Baltimore. He quit a year later after an alarming accident.
"He was shot in both legs as he stepped out of a phone booth," Mrs. Nelson said. "He was looking up an address for his next client, but someone must have thought he was reporting a drug deal."
He fully recovered from his wounds, but decided to move to Boston, where he tended bar and tried to earn a living playing the French horn. "By 1980, he realized that the demand for French horn players was far smaller than the supply," Mrs. Nelson said. He then went to work for his father at Clayton Brokerage, a commodity brokerage in Clayton, Mo., eventually making his way to Wall Street.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 16, 2001.