Commander Gerard L. Nelson ’43-2

Gerard L. “Rod” Nelson, Commander U.S. Navy (Ret.), 96, successfully completed his last tour of duty on this planet and was called to his heavenly home in the early morning hours of July 6, 2021.

Rod was born in Staten Island, N.Y., on March 30, 1925 and at a young age, moved with his family to Bath, Maine. He always considered the mid-coast Maine area to be his home. He attended Morse High School and Fryeburg Academy. He then graduated from Maine Maritime Academy in the wartime class of 1943-2. Too young to serve, his father had to grant permission for Rod to join the USCG-Merchant Marine as an engineer. During the war, he served on four ships providing ammunition, food and other essentials to U.S. troops and allied countries. He loved the work but he disliked “being on a ship that couldn’t fire back at the enemy.” In 1946, Rod accepted his commission to the U.S. Navy as an Ensign. Over the next 25 years, he served on several ships including destroyers, amphibious assault ships, LSDs and guided missile cruisers. His land-based assignments included Auburn University, Ft. Ord, California, Yorktown Naval Weapons Station, Bahrain Island in the Persian Gulf and the Pentagon. He also served as Port Services Officer for the Naval Station Norfolk and his last tour was as the Executive Officer for the Naval Station Norfolk. He retired from the Navy in 1971. During his service, he was awarded many decorations, medals, badges, commendations, citations and campaign ribbons. Rod was also a Mason and a member of Solar Star Lodge #14 A.F. & A.M, Bath, Maine.

Following his distinguished service in the Navy, Rod remained in Norfolk, Virginia, and was employed by QED Systems, Inc., as well as Old Dominion University, where he was assistant director of ODU’s physical plant.

In 1996, Rod lost his beloved wife and favorite golf partner, Anna May, following a long battle with cancer. Together they raised four children, golfed, bowled, traveled, gardened and loved each other, their home and their grandchildren.

Rod proudly dedicated his life to the service of his country. To those who knew him well, he was a rascal and raconteur, a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, uncle, jack-of-all-trades, a good neighbor and a devoted friend.

He will be interred in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors at a date to be announced.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be directed to the “Cdr. G. L. & Anna Nelson Endowed Scholarship” at Maine Maritime Academy ( Online condolences may be made to the family at