This page is under construction as of 3/29/24 to commemorate the life and contributions of Bob Nelson, Everett, WA who passed Feb 2024.  Email to offer a submission:
Look for a tribute to Bob at the Tribute to Silent Voices Friday May 24, 2024 at Northwest Folklife Festival

From Bruce Baker

Mourning the loss of Bob Nelson of Everett, WA. Also known as the Deckman, he worked bhuilding decks and also in maintenance at UW. But best known for his exceptional knowledge of PNW Folk Music heritage. Bob changed my life in his performance skills workshop RainyCamp 2009. What a master at making it natural.
May be an image of blueprint and text that says 'T 10:00 Lodge RAINYCAMP 2009 WORKSHOP SCHEDULE Longhouse Food Songs Rob Lopresti 12:00 Chapel Performance Skills Bob Nelson Sunrise 1:00 Komokulshan Digital Audio Recording- Rick Shory Lunch Sing alongs for Bluegrass 2:00 performing Jack Harmony- Susan Roberts Helf and Ken Cofield 3:00 Sarllan Singing on the threshold -Linda Allan 4:00 Tin Pan Alley and Show Tunes -Fred Maslan Banjo playing- Thomas Ryan Songs of the Sea not chanteys Leader TBD Ergonomics -Flip Breskin Zeke Hoskin'
Photo Julie Muhlstein 2019  Everrett Herald all rights reserved. permission pending
From Pushkara Sally Ashford
Our dear friend and fellow folksinger, Bob Nelson, has passed,
Bob Nelson – For Pete’s Sake:
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.
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 NW folkmusic community, as he was a performer and archivist. We love you, Bob!
From David Perasso, Seattle March 2024

I met Bob Nelson around 2010 when I started going to Stew Hendrickson’s house jams. At first I didn’t see anything too special about him. He was just an old folk singer, like me, only a bit older. But soon his friendly personality won me over. Soon I was invited to Bob’s jams at his place in Everett. 15 to 20 of us, in his back yard singing. With food on the table in the kitchen and back room. A warm, friendly house with an interesting “barn.”

The “barn” was where I saw another side of Bob, his woodworking side. He was a master craftsman and that was his workshop. Filled with tools, many of them of the older styles, made to last and meant to be used by a highly skilled craftsman (which he was). I loved spending time in his workshop, listening to him talk about the tools and the things he had made.

After Bob and Judy moved to the retirement home, Bob frequently called me. Often just to say hello, but mostly when he has a story or some information to share. He also shared his thoughts and helped me think thru some decisions I had to make. Bob was not only fun, and helpful, and skilled, but he was a good friend. You couldn’t help liking him. I miss him and always will.

Bob Nelson Remembered
Stewart Hendrickson

Soon after moving to Seattle from Minnesota in 1996 I met Bob Nelson who invited me to a hoot at his house. This was the beginning of a long friendship. He introduced me to a wealth of old folksongs and many local folk musicians. He also told me about the Pacific Northwest Folklore Society, founded in Seattle in 1953 but then no longer active.

I became disillusioned with the Seattle Folklore Society, which then brought many out-of-town singer-songwriters but not much traditional folk music to Seattle. I felt we needed an outlet in Seattle for the more traditional folk music. Bob and I had an idea to revive the old Pacific Northwest Folklore Society in order to present and preserve the more traditional music and provide a venue for traditional folk musicians, particularly those from our region. We started small with monthly concerts, which we called “c0ffee house concerts,” beginning with a “reunion concert” with Bob Nelson and Don Firth in 2007. We also produced a web site where Bob contributed many articles on local folk music. The Society exceeded our expectations and ended up with monthly concerts at the Couth Buzzard Bookstore and an extensive website. Bob’s knowledge of folk music and the local traditional folklore contributed much to this endeavor.

As Bob’s health deteriorated, he resigned as a co-director of the Society but we continued to remain close friends. He regularly contacted me to see how I was doing and to tell me his old jokes (groan!) and stories about local folklore. He was a regular participant in our monthly house jams until he and Judy moved into a retirement home in Everett and could no longer travel down to Seattle.

Bob’s interest in folk music went back to the early 1950’s when he was a teenager in the Seattle area. He helped found the Pacific NW Folklore Society along with Walt Robertson, Don Firth, and others. He taught me much about folk music and local folklore, and was always a welcome friend. It is sad to see him go, sort of like the end of an era, but the traditions will continue, hopefully, with others taking his place. All I can say is that Bob was “one of a kind.” We will miss him.

Stewart Hendrickson
Seattle, 1996–2023
Fairfax, California, 2024