Walter Nelson (1944-2018)

Draftsman engaged clients with humor, personality


Walter Nelson, who in khakis and polo shirt stood watch at construction sites as project manager for a local architecture firm, died Aug. 11 in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township. He was 74.

He had surgery to remove a tumor on a kidney, but when he did not respond well afterward, doctors discovered cancer had affected his brain, said his wife, Lola.


Mr. Nelson was a draftsman for more than 50 years with what is now Normand Associates Inc. Architects/​Planners of Perrysburg.

“We were a small enough firm that you did everything,” said Jeff Normand, the principal, whose late father, J. Robert Normand, hired Mr. Nelson at the firm, then in downtown Toledo. “Walter was rather unique for a draftsman in that he had a lot of interplay with the client. He had a very engaging personality, and he could tell a pretty good joke.”

The firm designed facilities for what is now Dana Inc., and Mr. Nelson was on-site project manager as plants were built in such places as North Carolina, Texas, and Missouri.

Mr. Nelson developed a bond with Luther Home of Mercy at Williston, Ohio, and Filling Home near Napoleon starting in the 1980s, when Normand Associates became architect for the entities, which serve people with developmental disabilities. Mr. Nelson thought through details to improve plans — maybe a tweak that a made a corner easier for a wheelchair to get around. “Walter was especially sensitive to that,” said the Rev. Donald Wuko- tich, executive director emeritus of the Luther Home, who became a friend.

“He worked a lot of jobs in the community and did big jobs out of state for big companies, but the work he did for our programs, because it was a gift to people with special needs, he put his heart and soul into it, and in a happy way.”

He was born Jan. 16, 1944, in Cleveland to Mildred and Paul Scherer. He was 9 months old when his father was killed in France during World War II. His mother married Howard Nelson, Jr., who adopted Walter. He was a 1962 graduate of Vermilion High and attended Stautzenberger College in Toledo.

At Zoar Lutheran Church in Perrysburg, Mr. Nelson was a deacon and usher.

He was a member of the Maumee-Bowling Green Elks and the Ancient and Honorable Order of Turtles, Pond 3.

Surviving are his wife, the former Lola Suhrbier, whom he married March 27, 1965; daughters, Laura Clark, Sara Adams, and Jennifer Rossbach; brother, Howard Nelson III; nine grandchildren, and two great-granddaughters.

At Mr. Nelson’s request, his body was donated to the University of Toledo college of medicine and life sciences, the former Medical College of Ohio. Services will be at 11 a.m. Friday at Zoar Lutheran Church, with the family requesting all to wear khaki pants and polo shirts.

“We didn’t want them to come dressed up in suits and ties. He was a very casual person,” his wife said.

Arrangements are by Witzler-Shank Funeral Home, Perrysburg.

The family suggests tributes to Luther Home of Mercy Foundation or Zoar Lutheran’s Kitchen of Hope.

Contact Mark Zaborney at or 419-724-6182.