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Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson, WA State (1937-2024)

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Stewart 27 Feb 24 - 04:23 PM
Jon Bartlett 27 Feb 24 - 05:30 PM
Stewart 27 Feb 24 - 05:50 PM
GUEST,Little Robyn 27 Feb 24 - 06:46 PM
Stilly River Sage 27 Feb 24 - 06:48 PM
Stilly River Sage 27 Feb 24 - 06:58 PM
Joe Offer 27 Feb 24 - 08:56 PM
Stilly River Sage 27 Feb 24 - 09:02 PM
Stewart 27 Feb 24 - 11:38 PM
Big Al Whittle 28 Feb 24 - 07:03 AM
GUEST,Pushkara Sally Ashford 28 Feb 24 - 01:34 PM
Dave the Gnome 28 Feb 24 - 02:02 PM
Maryrrf 28 Feb 24 - 02:13 PM
Bruce Baker 28 Feb 24 - 11:47 PM
GUEST,Fred Maslan 28 Feb 24 - 11:53 PM
Gibb Sahib 29 Feb 24 - 02:04 AM
Stilly River Sage 29 Feb 24 - 11:18 AM
Waddon Pete 01 Mar 24 - 10:54 AM
Seamus Kennedy 02 Mar 24 - 12:01 AM
Hanknclaire 02 Mar 24 - 12:09 AM
Donuel 03 Mar 24 - 08:02 AM
Stilly River Sage 10 Mar 24 - 12:40 AM
GUEST 11 Mar 24 - 10:10 PM
GUEST,Bill D. 12 Mar 24 - 08:30 AM
Stilly River Sage 07 Apr 24 - 02:04 PM
Stilly River Sage 28 May 24 - 02:54 PM
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Subject: Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson
From: Stewart
Date: 27 Feb 24 - 04:23 PM

I'm sad to report Bob Nelson's passing on Feb. 25, 2024 (1937-2024). Bob was the dean of Pacific Northwest folk music. He co-founded the Pacific Northwest Folklore Society (pnwfolklore.org/wp) along with Walt Robinson, Don Firth, and others in Seattle in 1953. Bob, Don, and myself, revived the Society in 2007. Bob had an incredible knowledge of Pacific Northwest folk songs and folklore in addition to songs in general. He was a prolific contributor to Mudcat up until recent years. He loved to tell stories and reminisce about other folksingers he knew. In a way, this seems like the end of an era for us old folkies in the Pacific Northwest but I'm sure others will come along. Change is the only constant thing.
Stewart


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Subject: RE: Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 27 Feb 24 - 05:30 PM

A huge loss, for us in BC and our friends in Washington state.

Jon Bartlett & Rika Ruebsaat


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Subject: RE: Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson
From: Stewart
Date: 27 Feb 24 - 05:50 PM

An interview with Bob Nelson, Oct 8, 2012, Inside Everett: Folksinger Bob Nelson. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VbSgoMQiTo


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Subject: RE: Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson
From: GUEST,Little Robyn
Date: 27 Feb 24 - 06:46 PM

A sad loss for Mudcat. RIP Bob.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 27 Feb 24 - 06:48 PM

Bob was someone I remember first meeting as a young child in the early 1960s, when my father (John Dwyer) took up guitar and started folk singing. Don Firth and Bob Nelson were usually at the house any time there was a hoot (with many others, but they are the ones I knew best). Over the years Bob was also around for his other claim to fame, "deckman" - building decks and doing carpentry work in general. The last time I visited his house on Jefferson St in Everett I was impressed by all of the antique tools he had hanging on the walls in his workshop and woodshed. On the front of his house he had an elaborate wood-framed chicken-wire covered enclosure that encompassed a tree and was connected to the house at a window so his cats could go outside safely (he lived very near a busy street).

Though they don't get updated and are rarely referred to, there are still photos of early Mudcat members available on this site. Bob Nelson as Deckman in photos he sent in, and scroll down on my page to find Bob in the fourth photo. (Some of the photos are from when we headed out on a ferry to scatter Dad's ashes, but Bob had recently had a hip replacement and couldn't make the trip, so I stopped to visit at his house before going to the ferry.)

We spoke a couple of months ago, and he sounded good. I hope whatever carried him away was fast and merciful. Stewart, how is Judy? Give her my best if you think she'll remember me.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson, WA State, 1937-2024
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 27 Feb 24 - 06:58 PM

https://orbiscascade-washington.primo.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/01ALLIANCE_UW/1juclfo/alma99162642674601452 is the permalink to the bibliographic information about the Bob Nelson collection of folk music at the University of Washington Pacific Northwest Collection.

Bob Nelson Collection of Folk Music: Bob Nelson Collection Home takes you to the page with photos, stories, links to performances, and more.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson, WA State (1937-2024)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Feb 24 - 08:56 PM

Oh, I'm so sorry to hear this. I enjoyed being friends with that guy for so long. I talked with him just three weeks ago, and it didn't sound like he was doing very well. He said he was almost blind. But as usual, he was in pretty good spirits.
He was such a character. He's call me up and announce, "Bob Nelson, up here in Everett." And I'd think, I KNOW you're in Everett, Bob. I've even been to your house. He was so enthusiastic about so many things, and he drew me into some of his projects. It was such a pleasure to know Bob.
My condolences to Judy, Stewart, Kenny Barroga, Maggie, and all who loved him.
Rest in peace, Bob. I'll miss you.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson, WA State (1937-2024)
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 27 Feb 24 - 09:02 PM

The vision loss was a huge regret for him because he loved to email and read places like Mudcat and send messages. Increasing the font size only worked for so long. Thanks, Joe, for sending him his last computer when the previous one failed.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson, WA State (1937-2024)
From: Stewart
Date: 27 Feb 24 - 11:38 PM

Stilly, Judy is doing okay, she recognizes me on the phone and is rather lucid. She plans to stay in the retirement home and has family around to look after her.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson, WA State (1937-2024)
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 28 Feb 24 - 07:03 AM

Bob was encouraging of me and my music. I never knew him, but I knew his kindness and I'm sorry we've lost him.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson, WA State (1937-2024)
From: GUEST,Pushkara Sally Ashford
Date: 28 Feb 24 - 01:34 PM

?Bob Nelson - For Pete's Sake: https://youtu.be/CUrX0LFlbOg?si=CGedXv6smiliNpLG
Bob Nelson, video interview and songs that my daughter, Wendy, and I made "For Pete's Sake!" in 2014. Bob tells at length about his start in folksinging, his membership as a teen in Seattle Folksinging Society, and his various interactions with Pete Seeger and playing for and among organizations on the left that attracted the attention of the FBI.

In this video, Bob brings us up to date talking about his life work, culminating in the collaboration with John Ashford to produce the Bob Nelson UW Folkmusic Archive housed at Suzallo Library. https://guides.lib.uw.edu/c.php?g=341882&p=2299959?

Bob came out to Whidbey Island with his wife, Judy, for this interview in the gypsy wagon I designed and had crafted for SingPeace! Pilgrimage for Peace & Global Harmony in advance of an 8-hour gathering of NW singers on Whidbey Island and nearby communities, "For Pete's Sake!"

I asked Bob to sing, "Who will sing for me?"

On that note: too much to say and lots more to celebrate of Bob's life and music. He was as much a shepherd of those of us in the folkmusic community as he was a performer and archivist. We love you, Bob!


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Subject: RE: Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson, WA State (1937-2024)
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 28 Feb 24 - 02:02 PM

Oh no! Another good one gone :-(

Condolences to all his loved ones


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Subject: RE: Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson, WA State (1937-2024)
From: Maryrrf
Date: 28 Feb 24 - 02:13 PM

Very sorry to read this. I don't frequent Mudcat as often as I once did, but I remember Bob's many valuables contributions to Mudcat. I wonder if there's a Mud Gathering in the Great Beyond...so many have passed on.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson, WA State (1937-2024)
From: Bruce Baker
Date: 28 Feb 24 - 11:47 PM

I am saddened by Bob's passing. We chatted regularly and I visited he and Judy at Sunrise. Even played a gig there for the residents. Bob had such an easy going nature to him, with a wise undercurrent of local folklore - most of which was first person. He ran a workshop of Performance Techniques at RainyCamp 2009 that was transformative for me and now when I play in public, I think of Bob and that workshop.

His woodshop was simply amazing. He had so many beautiful artifacts, lovingly carved and finished -- just like his singing. A good portion of the equipment and tools found a new home at the Phinney Neighborhood Community Woodshop.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson, WA State (1937-2024)
From: GUEST,Fred Maslan
Date: 28 Feb 24 - 11:53 PM

Bob was one of the last along with Stan James John Dwyer.Don Firth Back in the day during the "great folk scare" of the sixty's you couldn't give a "hoot". without them He will be missed.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson, WA State (1937-2024)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Feb 24 - 02:04 AM

I didn't know Bob personally, but he once sent me a CD out of the blue—what kindness!


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Subject: RE: Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson, WA State (1937-2024)
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 29 Feb 24 - 11:18 AM

Bruce, I'm so glad to read where those tools ended up! Your remarks reminded me of something from around 1980 - Bob was doing carpentry work at the home of another friend of mine, and realized that none of the repairs would be durable if the house wasn't level. He had Stan James (who usually built and worked on boats) helping him in the basement as they set up jacks and shims and put the house to rights before doing the construction that had initially brought him out.

It's like my dad always said of his being a librarian - any of these jobs were their vocations, but their avocations were musician/musicologist/folksinger. And for those three at least, the "avocation" held far more importance to them.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson, WA State (1937-2024)
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 01 Mar 24 - 10:54 AM

We will miss Bob in so many different ways. I have added his name to the "In Memoriam" thread and send my sincere condolences to all those who know and love him. RIP Bob.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson, WA State (1937-2024)
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 02 Mar 24 - 12:01 AM

I always enjoyed Bob's posts and knowledge. RIP, sir.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson, WA State (1937-2024)
From: Hanknclaire
Date: 02 Mar 24 - 12:09 AM

All my memories of music-making with other folkies in the PNW include Bob Nelson, if not directly then indirectly as his stage mentoring set Hank and me on our performance pathway and our first real gig was because of Stew and Bob and the Wayward. Over the last couple of years, post-pandemic, we've played several times at Sunrise View and will continue to make the trek across the Sound as long as Judy is living there. A short visit followed each gig. A while back he gave Hank a piece of cedar that became a uke that Bob played briefly and then asked that we keep when he went into hospice. He knew his own mind (as always) and was in control of his choices.

The legacy of his collection at the University of Washington Bob Nelson Collection of Folk Music was truly a labor of love and sweat for Bob. We heard his stories of frustrations and surprising discoveries in the final years of the project. Eventually, he found a home for it at UW. One of his wood creations sits in our garden, and I know I'll chat with it from time to time and thank him for all he did for folk music and live music-making in the PNW. RIP, Bob!


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Subject: RE: Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson, WA State (1937-2024)
From: Donuel
Date: 03 Mar 24 - 08:02 AM

Bob was a wonderful performing artist, devout collector of folk music and a kind soul.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson, WA State (1937-2024)
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 10 Mar 24 - 12:40 AM

I've been watching the local paper Heraldnet (those of us who grew up there still call it the Everett Herald) and if an obituary appears anywhere I expect it will be there. (The Herald lost its city affiliated name when it became a McClatchy paper.)


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Subject: RE: Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson, WA State (1937-2024)
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Mar 24 - 10:10 PM

Bob was both a personal and musical friend. He was there for many of the pivotal times in my life. We spoke on the phone as he was transitioning to hospice. His friendship helped to shape my life and I will always be grateful to him and Judy. Hoots at their home were legendary. Those of us who knew him were so very blessed.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson, WA State (1937-2024)
From: GUEST,Bill D.
Date: 12 Mar 24 - 08:30 AM

I missed this until today.

Bob & I corresponded thru Mudcat PMs and email a few years ago as we realized we had certain songs and and connections we shared. SRS posted a link to Bob's collection at the U. of Washington library. I am one of the people referred to in this link to the music of Larry Kiefer from Wichita.
https://guides.lib.uw.edu/c.php?g=341882&p=2304633

Bob was visiting a friend in California once, just as she was throwing out some old reel-to-reel tapes, and Bob, the consummate archivist, retrieved them from curbside and took them home to sort. When I mentioned on Mudcat that I wondered where Larry Kiefer was, he messaged me that a tape of Larry,made in Wichita in about 1960 had been in the salvaged lot, and Bob said he'd get a copy to me.
   Several weeks later, a CD arrived with the songs mentioned!

I already have missed Bob's Mudcat posts, but now I have wonderful memories of a fine and generous gentleman who made and shared great music.

R.I.P Deckman


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Subject: RE: Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson, WA State (1937-2024)
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 07 Apr 24 - 02:04 PM

A Rainy Camp Memorial site is under construction by Bruce Baker with this note posted on Bob's Facebook page: "A memorial to Bob at 2024 Northwest Folklife Festival May 24th Friday. Do show up and honor his contributions to Northwest Folk Music."


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Subject: RE: Obit: Bob 'Deckman' Nelson, WA State (1937-2024)
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 28 May 24 - 02:54 PM

I've watched the Herald (Everett Herald to old timers who grew up there) but so far no obituary has been offered up for Bob.

I was looking through some folk information in my computer this morning and found an old PDF I saved of an article about Bob, written by Julie Muhlstein, for the Herald, published on May 22, 2009. It comes as close to a summary that would run in an obituary as I can think of. I didn't save the URL on the page and am not able to reproduce the article link, but have transcribed my copy:
Published Friday, May 22, 2009
By Julie Muhlstein, Herald columnist

Retired Everett carpenter now hammers out folk songs

Bob Nelson gets up early. By 4 am, he's often at work in his home office, which has so much equipment it looks like a recording studio. At 72, he's making good on a promise.

"It's a promise I made to myself years ago," said Nelson, a folk singer who lives in Everett with his wife, Judy.

I visited Nelson on Wednesday to see in person what keeps him so busy. He had sent e-mail explaining his efforts: "I started learning, collecting and singing folk songs when I was 13," he wrote. Now retired from his work as a carpenter, Nelson has time to devote to preserving the music he loves.

"I'm converting over 300 reel-to-reel tape recordings from analog to digital CDs. I also have over 400 cassette recordings," he said. "It's a long process. I've been at it seriously about five months, and have burned up four tape recorders."

"Past meets future at Nelson's house, where shelves are loaded with boxes of old tapes. He also has a treasure trove of vinyl records, and a turntable to help him save the Northwest's vintage folk music for future generations.

He has yet to find a proper repository – a university, library, or music organization –for the archives he's creating, which also include short biographies Nelson is writing about performers. "My goal is to preserve this material so that 50 or 100 years from now, some future researcher will have these songs available," he said. "Otherwise, they will die with me."

Traditional folk music is alive in his heart, and it's a big part of his history. In the 1950s and '60s, Nelson was caught up in the spirited folk scene in Seattle's University District. He performed around the region at hootenannies—he calls them "hoots"—jam sessions, coffeehouses and college concerts.

Back then, Nelson would haul with him a 60-pound Webcor reel-to-reel tape recorder, capturing performances of folk legends and obscure artists. "It was a working tool, that reel-to-reel. I'd take it to a hoot, then listen and practice," he said.

Nelson was an original and active member of the Pacific Northwest Folklore Society, founded in 1953 by the late Walt Robertson, Don Firth and others. In recent years, Nelson, Firth and Steward Hendrickson have revived the Pacific Northwest Folklore Society (www.pnwfolklore.org). The group has sponsored folk music performances at the Everett Public Library and other venues.

"I'm having a lot of fun," said Nelson, who in 2007 recorded "Songs I Sing After Dark," a CD collection of traditional songs that includes "The Old Settler," the Ivar Hagland ballad that was printed on Ivar's restaurant place mats.

"I had basically hung it up for about 40 years while I was making a living and being a father," Nelson said of singing and performing. He's been happy to reconnect with artists he knew years ago. Today's folk scene "is very active," he said.

Although Nelson was among the founder of the Northwest Folklife Festival, he said he won't be at this weekend's event. Held annually over Memorial Day weekend at the Seattle Center, the festival as grown too big and too far from its roots for Nelson's taste. "I avoid it like the plague," he said.

That's not to say Nelson hasn't rubbed shoulders with folk music giants. The night Joan Baez played at the Seattle's World's Fair in 1962, Nelson said Baez and a friend didn't want to stay at a downtown hotel. They ended up in the Seattle home of Nelson and his first wife, he said.

And Pete Seeger? "I talked to Peter about two weeks ago," Nelson said of the 90-year-old folk legend.

At home in Everett, Nelson feels blessed to have played a part in the Northwest's folk legacy. He's proud of himself for learning computer skills needed to save the music –and the songs of David Spence, Bill Higley, Walt Robertson, and many more. "I was a carpenter and folk singer, and I had to become a techie," Nelson said.

He figures that compiling CDs, cross-indexing songs performed by several singers, and writing biographies will take at least two years.

"We don’t want the music to die with us," Nelson said. "I can't die till it's done."


In my search for the web version of that article I landed on a few more about Bob.

Folk duo’s songs for the ages are a gift for Everett seniors

Everett folk singer’s archive gets a home at the UW

Bastyr founder was talented guitar player (This is a reflection by Bob after an obit ran in the Herald about William Mitchell.)


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