Thomas Finley Nelson ’48

Thomas Finley Nelson, age 86, went to be with his Lord on October 1, 2014, after a brief illness. His soul now rests with God’s grace. He was born on November 16, 1927, to Ellen Finley Nelson and Lewis M. Nelson of North Wilkesboro, NC. He grew up there, attended public school, was a member of the Presbyterian Church, and was an Eagle Scout. He went to Davidson College for his freshman year and then transferred to the engineering school at NC State, where he earned varsity letters as a member of the swim team. He graduated in 1949 with a degree in engineering.


In 1950 he was drafted into the US Army at the beginning of the Korean War. He was assigned to the Army’s research and development station in Virginia, where he worked as an enlisted man with civilian engineers. In 1954 he moved to Atlanta and joined Lockheed Aircraft, where he worked as a research engineer in the Engineering Test Lab. Most of his work was with aircraft structural fatigue testing. He was lead engineer on the C-5 tail and landing gear fatigue testing.


In 1971, he married Marguerite Sikes of Atlanta, formerly of North Augusta, SC. Tom and Marguerite began a 43-year journey together. In 1977 he was loaned by Lockheed to Scientific Atlanta. A few months later he resigned from Lockheed and joined Scientific Atlanta. He worked there as a systems integration engineer working with large antennas that were used by governments for intelligence work. He traveled the world installing these systems. He retired from Scientific Atlanta in 1993.


He is survived by his wife, Marguerite Nelson of Marietta, daughter Valerie Sessler (husband Nelson Sessler) of Durham, NC, daughter Holly Nelson of Atlanta, GA, son Clark Nelson (Colleen) of Atlanta, GA; four grandchildren, Madeleine Sessler, Liam Sessler, Nolan Sessler, and Rose Caroline Nelson; brother Lewis M. Nelson of Roanoke, VA and five nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held Sunday, October 12 at 2pm at Mount Vernon Presbyterian Church in Sandy Springs, where he and Marguerite have served as elders.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Mt. Vernon Presbyterian Foundation.