F. Nelson Tomlinson, Jr. ’51

After embracing a life well lived on earth, F. Nelson Tomlinson, Jr. passed away on October 20, 2020 to his eternal home in Heaven. A native of Winston-Salem, NC, Nelson was born to Dr. Floyd N. Tomlinson and Margaret Dougherty Tomlinson on March 19, 1929.

He attended R.J. Reynolds High School for two years and was graduated from Fork Union Military Academy in 1947. Nelson furthered his education at Davidson College and was graduated in 1951 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business.

After graduation, Nelson enlisted in the United States Air Force and later received a direct appointment as a 2nd Lieutenant at Donaldson Air Force base in Greenville, SC. He was released from active duty in 1953 and attained the rank of Captain in the local Air Force Reserve Unit before his resignation.

In January 1954, Nelson was accepted into what he felt was “the finest training program on Wall Street for stock brokerage” with Merrill Lynch. His career as a stockbroker was phenomenal in satisfaction on many levels. Nelson felt very blessed that his work was his favorite hobby and his livelihood.

Nelson got great satisfaction in studying research of companies and investing where he felt growth and increased earnings were very probable. Frugal yet enterprising, he diligently applied his father’s counsel:“It does not matter what you make; it is what you save that counts.” He took good care of his clients and gained their trust by recommending investments which met their needs and objectives.

In January 1979 Nelson was elected Vice President of Merrill Lynch. He retired June 30, 1995 after 41 1/2 years of service, yet remained active in his pastime of investing in securities until his death.

As successful and rewarding as Nelson’s career was, it only came in second to being struck by a thunderbolt when he first met Dottie Ellis at a private Christmas dance at Old Town Country Club when he was a junior at Davidson College and she was a junior at R.J. Reynolds High School.

Although he lost her phone number, with fate and better timing prevailing, Nelson spied her again four years later while she was playing the organ in the Chapel Sunday School Class at Centenary UMC. Their courtship began later that afternoon.

Nelson and Dottie were married less than a year later on July 28, 1956 and enjoyed great happiness in their 61 years of marriage until her passing in 2017. Their marriage was admirable because of their steadfast commitment to one another, partnership in their endeavors and sharing joys and challenges of life with humor, zest and comfort.

To further enhance their lives together, Nelson and Dottie were blessed with 3 children: Ellis, Laurie and Dawn. Together they helped shape the character and values of their children by their love for one another and each of their children, guidance and moral compass. Nelson’s children always had the utmost respect, love and admiration for him.

Guided by principles of integrity, responsibility and gratitude, Nelson served his community with his time, talent and resources. He was an avid supporter of The Winston-Salem Foundation, Community Care Center (Board of Directors) and The Republican Party. He was also a member of Centenary United Methodist Church, Stratford Rotary Club, Forsyth Country Club and Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce.

In 2003, Tomlinson Hall at Davidson College was dedicated in honor of Dorothy Ellis Tomlinson and F. Nelson Tomlinson, Jr. in recognition of their generosity to the college for over 50 years.

In 2018, Tomlinson Wellness Center at Arbor Acres was endowed by Nelson in memory of his beloved wife, Dottie.
Within moments of any conversation with Nelson, one would immediately discern that he was a natural born storyteller. His ability to recount the success stories and adventures of his contemporaries and predecessors was intriguing, as many became pillars in our community.

His wit and dry sense of humor entertained family and friends at any gathering. His legacy of living a passionate life with purpose, commitment and generosity will forever be respected and appreciated.

Nelson wanted to express his appreciation to his special friend and investment advisor, Lee Raymer of Merrill Lynch, for his professional assistance during his retirement years.
Nelson is survived by his son Ellis Tomlinson (Karen) of Colorado Springs, CO; daughter Laura Dray (Jeff) of Winston-Salem; daughter Dawn Tomlinson (Steve Beck) of Winston-Salem; granddaughters Kathryn Schamens of Berlin, Germany and Kristen Dray of Venice Beach, CA; brother Charles Tomlinson of Winston-Salem; his sister-in-law Judy Thuman (Pat) of Big Canoe, GA; nieces Marilyn Edwards (Marshall) of Charlotte, NC; Virginia Baker (Murray) of Blountsville, FL; Louise Cain (Bob) of Winston-Salem; Heather Mackel (George) of Big Canoe, GA; 8 grand-nieces and 7 grand-nephews.

He is preceded in death by his beloved wife, Dottie; sister, Mary Ann Stephens Grimes, and nieces Susanne Lessler and Elizabeth Stephens.

A private memorial service will be held at Salem Funeral Home Chapel on Wednesday, October 28, 2020 with Rev. R. Craig Ford officiating. We invite family and friends to visit www.salemfh.com to view the memorial service of Nelson, beginning Thursday, October 29th.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Winston-Salem Foundation, 751 W 4th St #200, Winston-Salem, NC 27101, Centenary United Methodist Church, 646 W Fifth St, Winston-Salem, NC 27101 or charity of donor’s choice.

Online condolences may be made at www.salemfh.com.