(CHICAGO, ILLINOIS)—Robert Cornel Nelson, National Vice President of the American Federation of Government Employees’ (AFGE) Seventh District for the last 15 years, died at his home in Park Forest, Illinois, on Nov. 7, 2001.
“Bob Nelson devoted his tremendous passion and loyalties to the cause of government employees, both within his district and nationwide,” AFGE National President Bobby L. Harnage said. “From his organizing offensives, legislative prowess to his pioneering work on labor/management partnerships, Bob envisioned every opportunity as one that would improve the lives of federal employees.”
Nelson began his union career as a member of Local 375 (Railroad Retirement Board), where he held various offices, including second vice president, first vice president and ultimately president. From 1974 to 1980, Nelson also served as president of the Chicago Area Council of AFGE Locals and in 1974 was elected president of the AFGE Railroad Retirement Board Council—a position he held until his election to Seventh District National Vice President in October 1986. He was subsequently re-elected five times in 1988, 1991, 1994, 1997 and 2000.
As National Vice President of the Seventh District, Nelson sat on AFGE’s National Executive Board and chaired both the Legislative and Legal Rights Committees and served as a member on three other committees. He chaired the Constitution and Rules Committee at several of the union’s national conventions and served in the elected position of Vice President of the Illinois State AFL-CIO. He was also an elected delegate to the 2000 National Democratic Convention.
Nelson was born in Chicago, Ill., on Nov. 9, 1949, and is survived by his wife, the former Judy Marshall; five sons—Robert, Jr.; Aaron; Daron; Eric; and Cornel—and two daughters, Erica and Shannon. The following funeral arrangements have been made: first viewing—Nov. 13 from 4-10 p.m.; second viewing—Nov. 14, 6-7 p.m.; funeral service—Nov. 14, 7-9 p.m.; burial—Nov. 15, 9 a.m., Mount Glenwood Cemetery, South, 183rd & Glenwood-Thorton Road, Glenwood, Ill.
The American Federation of Government Employees, AFL-CIO, is the largest union for government employees, representing 600,000 federal workers in the United States and overseas, as well as employees of the District of Columbia. AFGE’s Seventh District Office represents federal workers in the states of Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.