Thomas Nelson’s mother remembers him as an only child who was always positive despite a lifelong heart condition.
The 21-year-old graphic design student from Jacksonville reportedly died at a hospital over the weekend.
According SJGC Dean James Hawkins, Nelson had become ill and was hospitalized for some time.
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Henry Kirby spoke to the mother of Nelson. “I hear of the passing of a FAMU student and my heart sinks, because I know that he is so young, and had so much to look forward to,” said Kirby. “His family and mother, and everything that they are going through, hope that their faith will sustain them through this time.”
Nelson had open heart surgery when he was 8-months-old. He has had two heart surgeries since then, according to his mother, Mitzy Jackson.
Nelson has always had a heart condition. “He didn’t really want anybody to know, he didn’t like to tell people about his condition because he didn’t want people feeling sorry for him,” said Jackson.
Jackson was told at the time of Nelson’s birth that his condition would be a disadvantage. Doctors informed her that he would be behind his peers physically and academically. “He was told he could not play sports, but he found a way around, although the doctors said he wouldn’t be with his peers, he was National Junior Society in middle school, and he did well in school, and he was 6-feet tall,” said Jackson.
SJGC Professor Arvid Mukes Ph. D. remembers Nelson fondly as an impressive student.
“I can honestly say that he was intelligent, refreshingly inquisitive, extremely energetic, responsibly independent, highly-motivated, creative, and a pleasant self-driven young man,” said Mukes.
Nelson was the third generation in his family to attend FAMU. His mother and grandmother also attended FAMU was Nelson’s first choice after high school, Jackson said.
Jackson believes her son wanted to become a game designer. He planned to minor in Art. He loved computer designs and art, and from there he had plans to create video games.
Jackson wants her son to be remembered for the positive things he stood for. “He loved God; he touched lives, when a lot of his friends came forward and told me how he had such an impact on them, it showed me how special he was, I always knew, but I had no idea, he touched that many people.”
Students have created a Facebook page in memory of Nelson.
Jackson thanked FAMU for being supportive at this time, she appreciates all the phone calls she received, and she especially thanks Hawkins for his take on this matter. “It means a lot to know that Thomas was known enough to be cared about, I really appreciate the love he has gotten from the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication,” said Jackson.
Viewing will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday at Weston’s Mortuary, 3027 N. MyrtleAve., Jacksonville. The funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, at the Spirit of Life Worship Center, 1176 Labelle St., Jacksonville.