The son of John Leon Nelson and Rebecca Nelson, he was born in Sumter, S.C., and moved to Baltimore in 1935. He lived on Bradley Street in West Baltimore and attended Samuel Coleridge Taylor School.
"He had to leave school in order to help support his mother," said his grandson, Kaon Nelson, a Gwynn Oak resident who was his caregiver.
He joined the Army during World War II and left military service as a private in 1946 at Mather Airfield in Sacramento, Calif.
After attending the State Police Academy, he became a special police officer for the State of Maryland and was assigned to the Department of Health and Human Services at the State Center Complex. He retired as a sergeant in June 1992 after 21 years of service.
He had earlier worked at the old U.S. Industrial Co. and at the Glenn L. Martin Co. in Middle River.
He enjoyed reading and spending time at Lexington Market.
"He stood at the Konstant stand and had a cup of coffee and read his newspaper," said his grandson. "He talked to his buddies."
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Joseph H. Brown Jr. Funeral Home, 2140 N. Fulton Ave.
In addition to his grandson, survivors include a son, Stephen Nelson of Baltimore; two daughters, Marcia Hull and Ashidda Khalil, both of Baltimore; and 11 other grandchildren.