Stephen Torrey Nelson, of Bayville, NJ, passed away on September 20, 2021 at LTACH within Monmouth Medical Center, Southern Campus in the care of the most experienced, kind and compassionate medical team.
He was born on August 2, 1950 in Philadelphia, PA and lived in many locations across the country due to his father’s military career. Eventually, Steve, the eldest of six energetic children, settled in Toms River, NJ where his father was stationed at what is now the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
He was predeceased by his parents US Naval Commander Edward A. “Steve” Nelson and Patricia A.(Noonan) Nelson; and his younger brothers Eric M. and Mark Nelson.
Steve graduated from Toms River High School (now T.R. High School South) in 1968 where he played varsity football and made many lasting friendships with his teammates. Upon graduating high school, he attended the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana for several years before deciding that carpentry and working outside were his true calling. He made many lifelong friends at the “U of I” with whom he was known to chat with for hours on the phone. In 2014, Steve completed his bachelor’s degree in American Studies at Columbia University’s School of General Studies. He loved to write and completed a novel, many short stories and poems based on his own experiences, ancestors’ records and imagined historical characters.
Steve worked for decades in the Ocean County area, alongside brothers Eric and Billy, as Steve Nelson Builders and Nelson Brothers Builders building residential and commercial spaces, most notably, the former Grog’s Surf Shop in Seaside Park and a home for his family in Island Heights. He was deeply inspired by the architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the painter Andrew Wyeth, Transcendentalist writers, especially Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and the music of the Beatles, Bob Dylan and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young - all of whom informed his building designs and processes, but enriched his life and mind as well. No doubt the singular combination of intellect and physical strength was what attracted his wife of 43 years, Gloria, when they met in the 1970s, second only to his compassionate heart. Steve adopted Gloria’s daughter Megan after they married on February 25, 1978 and enjoyed a quiet life in Ortley Beach, NJ. In the 1980s they had three lively children, Kristin Kara, Leif Erik and Stephen Francis with whom the quiet was replaced. He cultivated in them a love of art, sport and adventure by taking them to museums, New York Yankees games and on road trips to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and Florida in the family Volvo. Steve was an active participant in their young lives, he coached Little League Baseball, built pinewood derby tracks for Leif’s Cub Scout troop, cheered at swim meets, gave Stephen guitar lessons and was brave enough to play catch with Kristin. His hope for his children was that they live meaningful lives through their relationships and passions.
In November 2020, Steve welcomed his third grandson, Kristin and her wife Christine Sinlao’s son, Hugo Francis Torrey Sinlao, and had the best time playing with him when he visited “Grampy”. He had the good fortune of having two older grandsons, Megan’s sons, Brandon Dreczka and Michael Zuniga. His son-in-law, Mick Zuniga, always brought delicious midwestern treats to the house and a generous ear to Steve’s epic tales. And, in January 2021, he celebrated the engagement of Leif to his partner Sasha Flimlin, a very talented artist.
In the final season of Steve’s life, he reminisced and shared stories about the old days with Gloria, who fiercely advocated for him until his last breath.
He will be deeply missed by his sister Lael McGrath and her husband Herb; his nephew, John W. McGrath, his wife Jeannine, and their three children Lilliana, Fiona, and Eric; his niece, Torrey DiMeo, her husband Antonio, and their three children Massimo, Marciano, and Valentino; his brother William Nelson and his wife Susan; his nephew, Max Nelson; his niece Patty Roque and her husband Jesus, and their two children Remy and Naya; his sister-in-law Barbara Nelson; nieces Natalie Shea, Jillian, Darby and her fiancé Blake Hodgens, and nephew Colin; his sister Victoria Kerins and her husband John; his niece Katie Misanko, her partner Vinny Fiorenzo and their son Silas; and his nephew Patrick Kerins; his sister-in-law Norma Todd and her husband Jim; his niece, Dr. Amy Thomas and her two daughters, Leah and Lauren; his niece, Stephanie Waskoenig, her husband Tobias Waskoenig and their two daughters, Anna and Isabelle. While not related by blood, Tony Monzo was like a brother and a loyal friend to the end. He also leaves behind his aunt, Margaret Berner and many cousins.
The family will receive friends Sunday, September 26th at 12pm to 3pm at the Timothy E. Ryan Home for Funerals 809 NW Central Ave. Seaside Park, NJ 08752. A Mass will be offered Monday, September 27th at 10am at St. Catharine’s RC Church, Seaside Park, NJ. Donations may be made to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, 262 Danny Thomas Place, Memphis, TN 38105
Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting www.ryanfuneralhome.com.
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