from Church of the Beatitudes’ newsletter, The Beat
The North Central Phoenix community doesn’t have to look hard to find evidence of the spiritual force and legacy that was Reverend Dr. Culver H. “Bill” Nelson D.D., L.H.D. A simple drive along Glendale Avenue is punctuated by his touch. Traveling central Glendale Avenue west, you’ll find The Church of the Beatitudes which he founded in 1954, and eight blocks west The Beatitudes Campus, a retirement complex, also founded by Dr. Nelson in 1965. Nelson was an integral part of the Phoenix business, spiritual and social fabric for many years contributing to labor-management relations, the arts, transportation, education, care of the elderly and the mentally ill.
Rev. Nelson's life and ministry was a legacy of service and compassion realized by his contributions to and enormous heart for the thousands of parishioners and hundreds of elderly citizens of our local community and city at large. Throughout his life, he tapped into and responded to the spiritual needs and care of not only the elderly and the mentally ill of our community, but also to his wife, Dee of 60 years, and three children, Mark B. Nelson, Kirk W. Nelson and Rebecca Nelson Guy, seven grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.
Looking to the future and as foreseen by Nelson, the Church of the Beatitudes (Seventh Avenue and Glendale) started in a barn (Bud Brown’s Barn) in 1954 with 15 people on loan from another valley church and within six months grew to 300 members. By 1979, Church of the Beatitudes had become the largest active congregation in its denomination throughout the United States. Dedicated to business and civic-improvement initiatives, Nelson was a part of the “Phoenix 40” (now Greater Phoenix Leadership), a business-leader group founded in 1974 by the late Eugene C. Pulliam.
From his commissioning of our Great West Window to the intimate and innumerable yet always impactful memories of his parishioners, Rev. Nelson was a spiritual force that is truly all-encompassing of a Beatitudes Saint. He passed away peacefully, April 12, 2019, six days after his 93rd birthday.
A memorial gathering will be held at the Church of the Beatitudes, April 23, 2019, with a family gathering at 3:00 p.m. followed by the memorial at 4:00 p.m. In lieu of a reception and flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Church of the Beatitudes, or the Beatitudes Campus.
This insightful and visionary man will be greatly missed by the thousands who knew him, the thousands he comforted, the hundreds he mentored and who worked with and for him, and most of all his loving family.