Eric Aaron Nelson, 61, passed away unexpectedly on April 14, 2019. He was born on May 6, 1957 in Portland, Maine, the eldest son of Aaron and Leah Nelson. He spent much of his childhood in Santa Cruz, California. He received a Bachelor’s degree in Education and a Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture, both from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.
Eric’s career was dedicated to making communities in Western Massachusetts better. A skilled landscape architect and economic development professional, he worked at SVE Associates and most recently served as the President & CEO of WestMass Area Development Corporation based in Chicopee, MA. He had a particular passion for revitalizing historic mills and led the redevelopment of the Ludlow Mills project in Ludlow, MA.
Eric was well known in Ashfield, his home for the past 26 years. He served in several volunteer roles including membership on the Local Education Council, the Ashfield Conservation Commission and the Ashfield Planning Board. Among his many efforts, he helped lead the work to rebuild the high school baseball field. He also coached Little League baseball for many years when his sons were young.
Eric loved Maine, his ancestral home, and vacationed at beloved Pequawket Lake his whole life where many family members gathered each summer. Eric loved gardening, fishing and baseball and was an avid Red Sox fan. He was a “people person,” always eager to share a handshake and a laugh with anyone he met. He will always be remembered for his warm smile and kind-hearted attitude. He loved making others laugh and was always eager to help his friends and his community.
Eric is survived by his loving wife of 26 years, Margaret (Peggy) M. Sloan and his beloved sons, Aaron Samuel Nelson and Samuel Sloan Nelson. He is also survived by his sister Carol Petrea Nelson and brother-in-law Craig Freshley of Brunswick, Maine, his brother Mark Anders Nelson of Portland, Oregon, and his nieces, Dana Freshley, Sara Freshley, Jessica Herman, Alanna Herman and Jenna Sloan.
A celebration of his life will be held on May 18, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ashfield, Massachusetts. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Franklin Land Trust, 5 Mechanic Street, PO Box 450, Shelburne Falls, MA 01370 or St. John’s Episcopal Church, 469 Main Street, PO Box 253, Ashfield, MA 01330.
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