Raymond Albert Nelson

ps_2013_10_15___15_42_49Ray was born in Seattle on June 2, 1936 and passed away unexpectedly on October 7, 2013.  Ray grew up in the Seattle area, near Green Lake.  As a young teenager, he had an entrepreneurial spirit and earned spending money by driving an ice cream wagon around Green Lake in the summer.  In his later teenage years, he worked as a full time baker while attending high school.  At the age of 16 Ray was named the youngest journeyman baker in the United States. 

After high school, Ray began his career as a longshoreman on the Seattle waterfront following in his father’s footsteps.  Eventually, he decided that he wanted to earn a college degree.  He combined work and school for approximately 10 years and finally achieved his goal at the age of 51, graduating from Western Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in International Business and Human Services. 
He continued to work for SSA but in the International division, which gave him the opportunity to work and travel to India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Panama and Peru.  Ray had an immense love of travel so when he was not working abroad he spent his vacations traveling around the globe.  One of his travel highlights was a study cruise around the world, which happened shortly after China was opened to western travel, and of course China was on the itinerary.
Ray worked in Peru for a number of years and eventually bought a house in Mollendo, where he met his wife Eliana Valdivia Munoz.  He considered himself fortunate to spend his winters in Peru with Eliana and summers at his home in Kirkland.
Ray had an adventuresome spirit so when he was not traveling, he loved to hike or take long walks with his buddies.  HeDSC00225 explored various trails around the Pacific Northwest as well as trails in or around the city of Seattle.  Each morning while in Peru, he took long walks on the beach in Mollendo.  If you visited Ray in Peru, you joined him for a walk on the beach.
A large part of Ray’s life was being a member of the Unitarian Church.  He involved himself in the activities of the church and especially enjoyed attending week-long camps at Seabeck Conference Center on Hoods Canal, with his daughters.  He continued this tradition with his grandchildren and great grandchildren.  Ray was known at Seabeck for his love of children, his infectious laugh, and his generosity for treating the entire camp to ice cream every year.  
Ray is survived by his wife, Eliana; his brother Rob and wife Sheila; three daughters, Julia, Nelda and Heidi; a neice Kristin and nephew Mark; grandchildren Acacia, Alena, Nate and Holly; and his six grandchildren Makiah, Lyric, Kahloni, Kane, Paisley & Evey.  Additionally, Ray leaves behind his numerous friends all over the world.  He touched the lives of many individuals who will remember him for his kindness, his generosity, his sense of humor and for his adventurous spirit.  He will be missed!
A “Celebration of Life” will be held November 2, 2013 at 1:00 pm at:
University Unitarian Church
6556 35th Ave. NE
Seattle, WA 98115
We will gather at 1:00 in the Sanctuary and hope you will join us for a brief service and to share favorite memories or stories of Ray.  The Reverend Jon Luopa will preside.
In keeping with Ray’s love of food, a light appetizer buffet will be served after the “Celebration”.  If you care to bring an appetizer to share, it would be appreciated, but certainly not required.  After the buffet we will have ice cream for all, in the spirit of Ray.
If you would like to share photos of Ray to be used in the service, the family has created a photo-sharing site at:
Ray loved children and he also loved to attend camps at the Seabeck Conference Center.  If you care to make a donation in his memory, the family has asked that donations be sent to either the Seabeck Conference Center, a non-profit Christian organization or to Seattle Children’s Hospital.  Donations to Seattle Children’s go to assist families in paying medical expenses for their children who are treated at the facility.
Seattle Children’s Hospital
Donations may be made on-line:
Or mail your gift to:
Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation
M/S S-200
PO Box 5371
Seattle, WA 98145-5005
Seabeck Conference Center
Donations may be made online at:
Or call 360-830-5010

17 Responses to “Raymond Albert Nelson”

  • Joan Lawson says:

    Lovely writeup. I will forward to out-of-town friends. I will be celebrating Ray’s life with you.

  • Rob Everitt #56880 says:

    My deepest condolences to Ray’s extended family. I had the pleasure of knowing Ray since I first got into the Union and I had the pleasure of working for/with him at Pier 37 both as a Local 19 and Local 32 member. He was a great guy, full of knowledge and a pleasure to work with. All his close Union brothers and sisters will miss him. He was one of the best of the best.

    RGE #56880

  • Jasmine Mirsepasy Young says:

    Julie, Nelda, Heidi… & family~
    I am so sorry to hear about your loss. Your Daddy is such an amazing man and will truly be missed. Please know I am praying comfort upon you all during this time. Much Love, Jasmine

  • Jim Hanson says:

    I attended Jr. High & High School with Ray. In the woodshop class Ray extended his skills to my project. With his help we made a nice magazine
    case that we use to this day. I believe he contributed more to the project than I did.
    I am so please to read about his wonderful, adventurous and successful life. He obviously continued to share his talents and friendship through out his lifetime.
    La Conner, Wa

  • Charlie Carter says:

    Ray is one of two people who convinced me to attend Seabeck Conference Center many years ago. For that I will be eternally grateful to that great guy. I will surely miss our breakfasts together with Joan Lawson. My condolences to his remaining family on their great loss.

  • jeff vigna says:

    I worked with ray for years on the waterfront. He was truly a good man.Enjoyed him very much as a person and as a forman.I TOO had a great love for Seabeck camp.I play golf with Ron pitts, one of his old friends and we will both miss him! Sorry for your loss. jeff vigna.

  • Donn walvatne says:


  • Beth McLin says:

    I will never forget Ray. He was a beacon of light to all who knew him and every year I looked forward to seeing him with his radiant smile upon my arrival at August Eliot. He exemplified what it means to be loving and generous. I especially admired his commitment to family, particularly his grandchildren and great grandchildren and I strive to, in some way, emulate that same commitment to my own family. I am holding all of you, Ray’s family, in my heart for the days that follow because I know your loss is tremendous. Ray was such a life force that letting him go is almost unbearable for me who enjoyed him only one week a year – I can’t imagine how hard it is for those whose lives he was always in. Don’t forget that you are very blessed. I wish you a smooth journey through the sadness to the other side – the joy in remembering. Sending you hope and faith in that future, Beth Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

  • Nancy Panitch says:

    Rays memory will always be in my heart from the days in the 80s when he took me as an adult child to get ice-cream at the store in Seabeck to having the honor of helping him serve ice-cream and make swim bracelets during Eliot. I feel so privileged to have know him. He set such a wonderful example of generosity & caring. He encouraged me to bring all four of my grandchildren to the same Eliot Camp at Seabeck. I will always be grateful for my time with him.

  • Sharon holland says:

    My heart is heavy, today, as I learn of Ray’s death. I too, was blessed with his enormous generosity. He remained a loved man, husband, father, and friend to all through out his life.
    Most sincere condolences to all of those, Rays life has touched.

  • Jeffrey Mirsepasy says:

    To me as a young kid, I always thought of Ray as a stylish guy who always had a smile on his face. He loved life. I feel privileged to have known him and his daughters, and my heart goes out to them at this time.

  • Barbara Bezanson says:

    I met Ray in 1949, when we were both 13 and my family had just moved into the Green Lake area of Seattle.
    We went thru High School together, shared many school memories and have stayed friends throughout our lives.
    We married others, went our separate ways, but always remained the best of friends. Over the years we found times to share our family events. Ray was there for me and all my children (6) and grandchildren when I needed assistance, just as I was there for Ray and his grand children. He will be missed by all my family members as well as myself. He was a great friend.

  • Gayle Knoepfler says:

    Ray made all of us feel special and was the most loyal friend to past “loves.” But family came first and his caring for grandchildren and great grandchildren went way beyond the ordinary… Acacia and her sons were dear to his heart where I saw them at Seabeck. Ray’s generosity during the 42 years I saw him each summer at “camp” came from the heart as giving to others was a deep committment. At Memorial Day camp this year he sat and shared with a new person, a man who will also never forget Ray. Love to you all… Gayle

  • Barbara E. Berg says:

    I was stunned to read in the UUC Gateway I received today of Ray’s death.

    I hadn’t seen him for some time when I saw him at church a few months ago, and he said “Hi, Barbara!” and flashed his beautiful smile. He seemed to be radiating happiness that day, and that’s how I’ll remember him.

    I feel very saddened by his loss and send condolences to his family.

    I truly regret that I can’t attend the celebration of Ray’s remarkable life because of a commitment that afternoon at UU Church of Edmonds, where I now live.

    Barbara Berg

  • Ted Kaye says:

    The church it was jammed, the church it was packed,
    The pews were all crowded from front to the back.
    I asked the people what made it this way…
    “We’re bidding farewell to Ray Nelson today”

    we sang “So long, it’s been good to know you…”

  • Julia Ray Nelson-Gilmer says:

    I am the proudest of all to be his oldest daughter. Thru thick and thin, my admiration, a drop of fear, and the need to have his approval filled my life. He gave us so many opportunities most children never receive…his time most of all, as a child of divorce, he made it his life goal to be a full time dad on part times…church, outdoor activities, eating in so many types of establishments, and people, friends…always others to make life rich. My dad knew how to choose his friends…always the best. So many lessons…and just never enough time of Ray Nelson…he will be missed forever, as he was a man of the times…and beyond…I love you, DAD….

  • David Lawrence says:

    Julie, Nelda, Heidi:

    So sorry to hear about your Dad. I still reminisce about those summers at Seabeck with all of you; and stumbled on this during one of those moments. One fond memory of your Dad was the morning he yanked me out of my sleeping bag as I overslept on the conference grounds in front of the Pines. Drop me a line if you remember me.; David Lawrence, quinnster@hotmail.com.

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