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Former Faculty: This WWII veteran and former professor also writes poetry

Leigh Guidry, The Advertiser, Jan. 29, 2019

He remembers when bread cost 5 cents a loaf, when ice and milk were delivered by wagon and when the world transitioned to mechanics and motors.

Frederick B. Nelson, a WWII veteran and former UL Lafayette professor, has published
Frederick B. Nelson, a WWII veteran and former UL Lafayette professor, has published "Life and Love: Its Joy -- Its Pain," a book of more than 200 of his poems under the pen name Erik Braum.  (Photo: Leigh Guidry/USA TODAY Network)

Frederick B. Nelson will turn 93 on January 4, 2020.

He flew dive-bombers for the U.S. Navy in the tail end of World War II. He went to college on his G.I. Bill, worked in the oil industry in Texas and Louisiana, had a family, invented tools like a reaction timer and fishing calculator and taught high school physics.

He spent almost 40 years as a professor and saw the college in Lafayette change from the University of Southwestern Louisiana to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

"My life has been very interesting," he told residents of The Blake at Lafayette Friday morning.

He was there not to discuss his time in the Navy or the hammer he invented and patented.

Nelson was there to share the words of his heart, compiled over the years into 210 poems that make up "Life and Love: Its Joy — Its Pain." He published the book under the pen name Erik Braum.

"I hope you all can feel what I'm writing about," Nelson said.

He read from his book in a white-walled chapel at the assisted living facility, but some he recited from memory, like "Lonely Faces."

He wrote it in on a napkin at the Hilton hotel, where he and his wife and friends went every week for 15 years to listen to live music.

Nelson now has more than 500 poems, some originating from when he was in his 20s. All of them rhyme. He's not a fan of free verse, or non-rhyming, poetry, which he tells you in the form of his own rhyming poem.

Frederick B. Nelson, a WWII veteran and former UL Lafayette professor, has published  
Frederick B. Nelson, a WWII veteran and former UL Lafayette professor, has published "Life and Love: Its Joy -- Its Pain," a book of more than 200 of his poems under the pen name Erik Braum.  (Photo: Leigh Guidry/USA TODAY Network)

He gets a few laughs from his audience when he reads that one and the one about a cold he catches from a kiss.

His poetry ranges from humorous and light to deeper topics like the wrongly incarcerated, ambition and love.

He read a few inspired by his wife, but kept that to a minimum Friday, saying he bypassed some of the "mushy love ones."

Others are inspired by places. His poetry can be found on display at Big Bend National Park in Texas and the welcome center near the Atchafalaya Basin. 

He first published his poetry in the mid-1990s and sold about 6,000 copies in southwest Louisiana. As he reached his 90s, he decided he wanted to take it nationwide.

"I thought before I left this world I would leave it with some of my poetry," Nelson said.

The book is available online at Amazon or by calling 1-800-788-7654.

Athletic Network Footnote by Dr. Ed Dugas.

Click here for his 92nd birthday celebration which includes information on he and Dr. David Fisher, the other celebrant, and a photo gallery.



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