The Honorable Sydney Banks Nelson, a gentleman and a gentle man, passed peacefully from this world on January 10, 2022 at St. James Place Health & Wellness Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Syd was born on March 12, 1935, in Shreveport, Louisiana to George Gus Nelson and Eunice Lilley Young Nelson. He grew up in Benton, Louisiana with the freedom of the country life, delivering newspapers on horse back and walking to church and school. He also attained the rank of Eagle Scout! He attended the University of Oklahoma on a Naval ROTC Scholarship, was the President of the Student Senate, President of Pe-et (Top Ten Senior Men), Fraternity Editor of the Sooner Yearbook, President of the Pre-law Club, President of his fraternity, Sigma Nu, Member Omicron Delta Kappa, Vice-President of Oklahoma State Student Government Association, and Co-Chairman of National Student Body President's Conference, all while attaining a degree in accounting. Upon graduation, he served for three years as an officer in the U.S. Navy, assigned to USS Sarsfield EDD 837 (an experimental destroyer home based in Key West, Florida, testing anti-submarine weapons). During this time, he met his lovely wife, Gail Anderson, at Brunswick, GA, where he was sent to Combat Information Center and Air Controllers school. (He loved to tell the story of how he picked Gail out from a catalogue! Her former Sunday school teacher invited Syd home for lunch, befriending him, and showed him a yearbook from Gail's high school in which she was voted the Most Intelligent – and was beautiful!) They were married at the First Methodist Church in Brunswick, GA on June 28, 1958. They had their first child, Denise Nelson Akers, in Key West, Florida while in the U. S. Navy. After completing his tour of duty in the U.S. Navy, he attended Louisiana State University Law Center, where he was Order of the Coif, Associate Editor of the LSU Law Review, and President of the Junior Class. He and Gail had their second child, Sydney Stephen Nelson, while Syd was in law school. He then had a one-year clerkship with U. S. District Judge Ben C. Dawkins in Shreveport, Louisiana. Thereafter he was employed by and later partner in Pugh and Nelson, then he formed his own firm, Nelson & Hammons, with John L Hammons, with whom he enjoyed practicing law for twenty-eight years until his retirement in 2005. He delighted in being able to serve people in his law practice, winning awards that provided monies to his clients to recompense them and make the hardships from injuries they sustained more manageable. His greatest love in his legal career was the jury trial, with which he had great success. He won one jury trial that, at the time, was the largest personal injury award made in North Louisiana. He had always had a love of politics and was elected in 1979 and served in the Louisiana State Senate from 1980 – 1992, during which he was named the Conscience of the Senate. He was one of the primary opponents of a mandate to teach creation science in school and a mandate of prayer in school (although a very faithful Christian, he felt this would endanger separation of church and state). He was instrumental in revising and passing the modifications to forced heirship, motivated by experiences of clients he had in his personal practice. He was also very involved in changes to the workers compensation law and unemployment compensation law. During his many years in Shreveport, he not only practiced law and served the people as Senator, but he also served the community in many other positions: President of the Administrative Board at First United Methodist Church, as well as holding several other positions there, Chairman of the Board for the Volunteers of America of North Louisiana, Vice-Chairman of LSU Health Sciences Foundation, President of the Shreveport Bar Association, Chairman of Caddo-Bossier Legal Aid Board, and on numerous other charitable boards. He was named Mr. Shreveport in 2005 due to his great community service. He and his wife Gail moved to St. James Place in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to be closer to their daughter in 2013 and have been there ever since. During this time, he served as Chairman of the Church Council at First United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge and got to enjoy being close to and hands on with his great-grandchildren, Reagan and Zander Shugart. He was preceded in death by his parents, George Gus Nelson and Eunice Lilley Young Nelson and his grandson James ("Jay") Burt Akers. He is survived by his loving wife of 63 years, Gail Anderson Nelson, his daughter Denise Dawn Nelson Akers (James "Jim" Bert Akers, Jr.), his son Sydney Stephen Nelson (Elsa Valderrama Nelson), his four grandchildren, Heather Aileen Akers Shugart (Andrew Michael Shugart), Christopher("Chris") Nelson Akers, Anna Kathryn Nelson, William Alexander ("Alex") Nelson (Ashlyn Saab Nelson), and his two great-grandchildren, Reagan Dawn Shugart and Zander James Shugart. Due to the Covid surge, a memorial service will be conducted later. Memorials in the name of Sydney Banks Nelson may be made to First United Methodist Church, 930 North Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA 70802; First United Methodist Church, 500 Common Street, Shreveport, Louisiana 71101; the Volunteers of America, 360 Jordan St., Shreveport, Louisiana, 71101; The Hospice of Baton Rouge, 3600 Florida Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA 70806; or the Alzheimer's Services of the Capital Area, 3772 North Blvd, Baton Rouge, LA 70806.
Published by The Advocate from Jan. 12 to Jan. 16, 2022.
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MEMORIES & CONDOLENCES
He truly was a "gentle man". A mentor and friend.
January 17, 2022
The world has lost a good one. I remember going to visit Aunt Lil and Uncle George when I was a teenager. Sydney was always kind to me and he and Bobby took me places. Sorry in losing him .
Eva Z Fair
January 16, 2022
My condolences to the family for your loss. I had the pleasure and privilege of Syd working with me on few cases over the years, as well as on some other non-litigation matters. Not only was he a skilled brilliant lawyer and tactician, he was a kind, generous and gracious man, always smiling and quick to laugh, the consummate professional. His nickname "St. Syd" was well deserved.
January 13, 2022
Syd Nelson was the essence of kindness, never a cross word, always a smile, forever grateful to those around him. We were so blessed to have him and will maintain such fond memories. The very last political candidate for whom I was willing to walk door to door to ask for support, for Syd only and never again.
January 13, 2022
Syd's warm and welcoming smile will be missed. Holding you, Denise and family in my prayers.
January 13, 2022
Condolences to Gail & the family so sorry for your loss