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Reverend Albert Arnold Nelius

Posted By Hall-Wynne On January 1, 2014 @ 12:00 am In Obituaries | No Comments

DURHAM: The Reverend Albert Arnold Nelius, beloved Episcopal priest over 50 years in Durham and former Duke University Library staff member, died peacefully January 1 at the Forest at Duke Health Center, surrounded by his wife and loving, competent staff. He was born December 9, 1925 in Memphis, TN, to Eva and Engel Nelius. Albert served in the U.S. Navy from 1943-46, after which he graduated in 1951 from Rhodes College in Memphis. He finished Virginia Theological Seminary in 1954 and was ordained the following year. Albert began ministry in Nashville, soon after meeting his future wife, Dr. Sigrid von Renner, during her medical residency at Vanderbilt. He served three years at St. Barnabas Church, Florissant, MO, and while there, oversaw construction of a new church. The family moved to Durham in 1960 when Albert joined St. Philip’s Episcopal Church. In 1970 he became Vicar of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in East Durham – a post he held until 1995. Albert received a Master’s degree in Library Science from UNC in 1969, the same year he joined Duke University Library. He rose to circulation director and retired in 1992. Over decades, Albert officiated at the annual Blessing of the Hounds for the Red Mountain Hounds fox hunting club.
Upon arrival, it took little time for Albert to become known around Durham. A “people person” of courtly manners and gentle spirit, he gravitated to those of all ages, sorts and conditions. Albert never ceased being pastor to his former flock of St. Andrew’s, and for that matter, to any friends seeking spiritual insight and care. He was ever faithful and attentive long after retirement, especially to the elderly. Albert was a traditionalist; he revered the Episcopal Church and found its deepest meaning and beauty expressed in the majestic, King James-style language of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. He performed the Church’s sacraments with dignity and humility.
A bona fide Renaissance man, Albert was steeped in the arts, literature, history and all things cultural. He was an avid reader, enjoyed adventures abroad, and was conversant in many genres of literature and poetry. His knowledge of classical music and opera was encyclopedic. Albert and Sigrid savored regular New York excursions for the Metropolitan Opera. With inimitable theatrical flair, he had a great command of language and spoke eloquently, complemented by his always genteel appearance and keen humor. Most notably, Albert Nelius was a rare human being to whom people flocked. He had the heart of a gifted Christian pastor with patience, warmth, tenderness, and the keen ability to listen and offer wise counsel. Albert was first to show up in moments of personal trouble, utterly sacrificial in putting the needs of others ahead of his own. His long and remarkable vocation will be remembered as one of compassionate presence and perpetual thoughtfulness.
Surviving are his wife of 58 years, Sigrid von Renner Nelius, M.D.; a sister Evelyn N. Meyer and a niece, Christine Haunschild, both of Pittsburgh, PA; and a nephew, Larry Meyer of Charlotte. He was predeceased by his son, Stefan von Renner Nelius, a brother, Engel Nelius and nephew, Mark Meyer.
The funeral liturgy will be 12:00 PM Thursday in Duke University Chapel, with The Rev. Dr. John L. Sharpe officiating. Memorial donations to: Chapel Choir & Music Endowment of Duke Chapel, www.gifts.duke.edu.chapel 919-684-2338, or to Duke Home Care & Hospice, 4321 Medical Park Dr. #101, Durham 27704. On-line condolences: hallwynne.com. Arrangements are with Hall-Wynne Funeral Service.

Condolences for the family of “Reverend Albert Arnold Nelius”

Condolence from Billie B Boyd on January 4th, 2014 12:00 am

Mr. Nelius was so kind and faithful to the parishioners of St. Andrews Episcopal Church, especially to my mother, Edith Boyd and my father, Murphy Boyd. For that I am eternally grateful.

Condolence from faye little on January 4th, 2014 12:00 am

I knew Mr. Nelius when he came to durham, ministering to St. Andrews and St. Philips Churches. He was a blessing to my family and to all of the parishioners that he came in contact with. We will all miss him. Ed Little

Condolence from john bosch on January 5th, 2014 12:00 am

My late wife, Shelby, and I were very good friends of Albert’s son, Stefan. Our sympathy and heartfelt condolences go out to you, Sigrid. We are very sorry for your loss of Albert–your life parfner for 58 years.

john bosch

Condolence from Kathryn Britton on January 5th, 2014 12:00 am

Albert Nelius taught my confirmation class, celebrated my wedding and the funeral of my godmother, and advised my family during a difficult time. It was a blessing to have him there to celebrate beginnings and endings and to help us over difficult middles. I will miss him.

Condolence from Abbott Mason on January 5th, 2014 12:00 am

I am so sorry to hear of the loss of Albert, he has been a good friend since my childhood and I will miss him. My condolances to Sigrid and the family.

Condolence from Harriet Harman on January 5th, 2014 12:00 am

It has been my pleasure to have known Albert these last 40-50 years. I found him entertaining, fun, stimulating, compassinate,etc. I will miss his humor the most.

Condolence from Maurice Parker on January 6th, 2014 12:00 am

May God be with you, sorry for your loss. Mr. Nelius was a very good man.

Condolence from Marshall on January 6th, 2014 12:00 am


I’m sorry we failed to get it done, but, in retrospect, I see our project was a just pretext to get together. :

..You cannot know how much I wanted to spend a day just asking you stupid questions, since I derived endless pleasure just listening to you. Alas, my respect for you was too great for me to allow myself that a greater compliment than you may realize. ^^;

I will assist Sigrid for as long as she has use for me.
The two of you were among only several human beings I felt were worth my time and enjoyed being with. \=^.^\=


Condolence from Charles & Joan Pless on January 6th, 2014 12:00 am

It has been our privilege to know & love such an extraordinarily kind and compassionate person. We especially enjoyed listening to his accounts of life’s experiences presented so eloquently.

Our prayers are with Sigrid at this time .

Condolence from Kristina Troost on January 6th, 2014 12:00 am

I barely knew Albert as he retired soon after I came to Duke, but the obituary evokes what I knew of him quite well — I particularly appreciated the phrase courtly manners and gentle spirit which did typify him. I hope that your memories will sustain you through this loss. Kris

Condolence from John Biggers on January 6th, 2014 12:00 am

I was sorry to read about the death of your husband. You and I worked at John Umstead, and I remember you were very special because you gave your best in trying to make life better for your patients.
If you come to Morehead City, please give me a call.
With kind regards,

Condolence from Jacqueline Brown on January 7th, 2014 12:00 am

My sincere condolences go out to the family of Mr. Nelius.
I will always remember that pleasant smile and warm personality that left a lasting and impressionable touch to so many others.

Former Perkins Library Employee
Jacqueline Meekins-Brown

Condolence from Jan & Larry Howard on January 7th, 2014 12:00 am

DEAR, DEAR Mr. Nelius, I will miss our talks about everything and anything that popped into either of our minds. You always had a sense of humor that never failed to see the bright side of everything and could make me look at a different side of things. I enjoyed meeting Marshall and seeing how good he cared for you and you praised him to high heaven. You were always a part of everything that the Abernethy’s had if it was lunch at grandma’s, a party, a christening, a wedding, or death, you always made it the most elegant. We will miss you but we know that you are home with all of our love ones.

Condolence from Myra Pratt on January 11th, 2014 12:00 am

We are very grateful to have known Albert, and our thoughts and prayers go out to our dear friend Dr. Sigrid and family during this
very difficult time.
Myra and Carol


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