Former mayor Nelms dies

Published 9:34 pm Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A former mayor and City Council member who also served on the Board of Supervisors of Nansemond County has passed away.

John Wood Nelms Jr., 86, died Monday, according to his obituary.

Nelms was on the board of supervisors before the 1974 merger that created the city of Suffolk. He served on the council and later was the mayor for one term, said another former mayor, Andy Damiani, who was on council at the time.

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“He was a great supporter of the county,” Damiani said. “He was a farmer and was dedicated to agriculture. He did represent the agricultural community, and he was very protective of them, as he should be.”

Damiani said Nelms helped the council overcome the many obstacles it faced in those early days, when a lot of complicated decisions had to be made.

“We had a lot of hurdles to go through, and we had the problems that went along with it,” Damiani said. “J.W. was part of the team. We were most fortunate to have him on council early on.”

Damiani also said Nelms was a no-nonsense individual, so much so that he once asked the mayor of Norfolk to meet him at a truck stop to talk about water supply.

“That’s the way he was,” Damiani said. “There was nothing pretentious about him. He didn’t put on any airs.”

In a Facebook post, Nelms’ nephew, Robert Nelms, called his uncle “a wise visionary who had the foresight to be an original investor in Charlotte Motor Speedway” and also paid tribute to his uncle’s elected service.

Nelms was predeceased by his parents, a son and a daughter. He is survived by a daughter, four sisters, two grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and other family members. A funeral will be held Thursday at R.W. Baker & Co. Funeral Home. Visitation will be held one hour prior to the service.