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Walter “Cap” Neilson III of Williamsburg passed away on Friday, January 8, after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.
He was born in the Bremerton, Washington Naval Hospital on May 25, 1944.
Cap is survived by his “bride” of almost 53 years, Linda Ezell Neilson and their three children; daughter, Kathleen Neilson Cooper and son-in-law, Jim Cooper, of Mechanicsville, VA; son, Eric Neilson and daughter-in-law Ellen August Neilson, of Ashland, VA; son, Greg Neilson and daughter-in-law Cindy Neilson of Strasburg, VA; two grandchildren, James Cooper, III, and Samantha Cooper.
He is also survived by his sister, Ann Albers of Dallas, TX and brother, Rick Murray (Kathy) of Ft Worth, TX, as well as several nieces and nephews.
From a young age Cap knew that education was the key to opportunity. He attended North Texas State College and the University of Texas to study journalism. While in college he worked on the school newspaper and covered President John F. Kennedy’s visit to Texas on November 22, 1963, the day that President Kennedy was assassinated. Today, a large wall mural in the School Book Depository Museum in Dallas shows Cap, along with other members of the press corps on that tragic day.
Cap paid for his education with a series of part-time jobs ranging from taxi driver to mail clerk. He worked for the U.S. Postal Service in various positions for 25 years before taking early retirement after serving for several years as Newport News Postmaster.
A new chapter in his life began in 1992 when he founded his own business, Landmark Appraisals. He rapidly took to the challenges of private enterprise and was highly sought after for his straight-shooting approach to commercial real estate valuation.
During this same period he began another interest, Rotary International. Rotary’s motto of “Service Above Self” epitomized the way that Cap lived his life. He was a past President of the Virginia Peninsula Rotary Club and served as District Governor for Rotary District 7600 in 2012-13, overseeing 60 clubs from Fluvanna County to the Eastern Shore. He proudly served on numerous regional and national committees and never hesitated to give of his time whenever Rotary called. Even in his final days he was offering creative recommendations to increase membership in his club.
Traveling with his wife Linda was probably his favorite pastime. They visited 40 states, including Alaska and visited 19 countries including the British Isles, Europe, the Far East, Australia and New Zealand.
Cap was strong in his Christian faith and served King of Glory Lutheran Church in numerous ways, including heading up a weekly prayer breakfast for 16 years. In addition, he served the Salvation Army as Board Chairman and participated in multiple disaster relief missions, some of them hundreds of miles away.
On September 11, 2001, he led the Salvation Army disaster relief mission to the Pentagon and was on-site within 12 hours of the terrorist attack. He was a strong supporter of the YMCA, serving on the Metropolitan YMCA board and the Camp Kekoka board. The love of the YMCA stems back to the early 1950’s when a camp scholarship was awarded to two young boys, Cap and his brother, Rick, when money was tight at home. He was also a Board Member of the Bernardine Franciscan Sisters Foundation, offering sound advice regarding dozens of grant proposals for the past several years.
Cap was an avid golfer and member of The Williamsburg Club. He and Linda enjoyed many golf vacations together. In more recent years they took up traveling the country in their RV, making new friends wherever they went. He was also a voracious reader and his knowledge of American History was encyclopedic.
A memorial service will be held at King of Glory Lutheran Church, 4897 Longhill Road, Williamsburg, VA 23188 at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, January 16 in the Founders Hall. After the service, a luncheon will be held in the church Fellowship Hall. A private internment of ashes will take place at King of Glory Memorial Garden.
Memorial donations may be made to Camp Kekoka, P.O. Box 580, Kilmarnock, VA 22482.
Please leave online condolences for the family at Nelsen Funeral Home.
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