In the News

2015 |2014

Remembering George Nelson

February 25, 2015

Over the course of 63 years – from the day he joined Fay, Spofford & Thorndike in June of 1951 until he retired in July of 2014 – George Nelson contributed immeasurably to the firm's success. Especially in his later years, George provided the kind of invaluable institutional and project-related knowledge that can't be kept in a logbook or computer file.

George passed away in late January, just six months after leaving FST. He was eight days shy of his 88th birthday.

Emile Hamwey, an FST co-worker for more than 47 years and the former president of FST, said, "Throughout his storied career at FST, George gained the respect and admiration of colleagues and clients alike. Far beyond his technical prowess and skill as an incomparable electrical engineer, he personified and exemplified true goodness, loyalty and ethical professionalism. He was a modest man, a solid citizen, a patriot, a friend and a mentor to all who have been privileged to know and work with him."

Hamwey marveled at George's ability to balance a dedication to his family with his dedication to FST. "His devotion and commitment to family, while at the same time never compromising his duties and responsibilities to the firm and our clients, represents a model to all of us on how to lead a balanced and productive professional life," said Hamwey. "He left an indelible and positive mark upon the great tradition of our firm that will live on far into the future and beyond us all."

George grew up in Waltham and served his country during World War II, volunteering for the United States Army Air Force on July 8, 1943, not long after his 16th birthday. He served in the Pacific as a Sergeant in the 20th Army Air Force Base Unit of B-29's stationed on Guam.

George attended the University of New Hampshire, Norwich University and the University of Vermont on the Accelerated Military Program and graduated in 1951. He joined FST as a junior draftsman, receiving promotions to draftsman (in six months) and senior draftsman (in a little over two years).

In March of 1957, he was promoted to Designer, and 9 months later to Junior Engineer.  He continued to climb the corporate ladder at FST, rising through the ranks as Assistant Engineer (1960), Engineer (1964), Senior Engineer (1973), Principal Engineer (1977) and Senior Principal Engineer (also 1977). He served as the head of the electrical department at FST, eventually handing the role to Creg Cascadden in 1998.

"He was a joy to work with and always made himself available to answer any questions that I or the staff had," said Cascadden, who follows George into retirement at the end of February 2015. "George developed a particularly strong technical focus on designing medium voltage electrical systems for water/wastewater treatment facilities, waterfront facilities and transportation project. He provided a high level of technical expertise on notable projects such as the James J. Gillis Pump Station at Spot Pond, where he designed a 4,160-volt generator paralleling system, and the Chestnut Hill underground pump station."
Prior to retiring in July 2014, George Nelson worked on the design of these transformers for a building addition at Aegis P237 in Moorestown, NJ.

One of George's most notable successes was his contribution to the design and construction of the MetroWest Water Supply Tunnel that includes very large underground vaults over multiple projects and construction phases. He also liked to talk about the work he did in the early 1950s at the Boston Army Base, which is now part of the Boston Seaport District. Over his career at FST, he was repeatedly asked to revisit prior work at the facility due to his longstanding knowledge and insight into the building's development.

Other career highlights include work for:

The U.S. Navy:

  • EHW Kings Bay
  • Pascagoula
  • Bangor Bremerton
  • AEGIS Building

Various Transportation Agencies:

  • Orange Line
  • Central Artery
  • Southwest Corridor Rapid Transit Commuter Rail Project
  • Sagamore Bridge Lighting
  • Lighting design for I-93 from 128 to city
  • Lighting design for 128 and intersection of 93
  • Logan Airport Cargo Buildings
  • MBTA – Cabot Yard Boiler Plant
  • Power distribution at Black Falcon Pier Buildings

Environmental Clients:

  • Oakdale Hydro Generating Facility
  • MWRA - James L. Gillis Pump Station
  • MWRA – Replacement of the Chestnut Hill Pump Station
  • MWRA - Miscellaneous Upgrades at the John J. Carroll Water Treatment Plant
  • Nashua, NH Pennichuck Water Works
  • Groton, CT Water Treatment Plant Upgrade
  • Troy, VT Wastewater Treatment Plant Upgrade
  • MIT High Pressure Fire Water Distribution
  • Taunton, MA Water and Wastewater Facilities


George was born in Newton on February 5, 1927, and grew up in Waltham. He is survived by his wife of 67 years Mary M. (Thompson) Nelson, and was the loving father of Alan Nelson and his wife Patricia, Roger and his wife Kimberly, Gary Nelson and his wife Lisa and Mark Nelson, all of Wilmington. He had seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.