Clifford Colmer Nelson was born November 1, 1914 in Jersey City, New Jersey. He was raised in Bayonne, New Jersey and attended the Bayonne public schools. Summers were spent on the oil tanker Bayonne, with his father, Captain Clifford Christian Nelson. When not sailing with his father, he would be on another of the Socony boats, often one of the tugs.

 

He received a BS from Trinity College in Hartford,CT., an MA from Columbia University, an LLD from Lawrence University, and an LHD from Trinity College.

 

During World War II he served in Military Intelligence at Fort Dix, New Jersey and in Military Government in France.

 

In 1945, he taught English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University until, in 1954, he became an officer of the American Assembly, a public affairs educational organization, founded at Columbia in 1951 by Dwight Eisenhower when he was the president of Columbia.

 

The Assembly periodically held national meetings at Arden House, its conference center in Harriman, New York, and published authoritative books and reports of recommendations for governmental policy on issues of national concern.

 

Mr. Nelson helped to establish a network of educational conferences in the United States and abroad with more than 125 institutions, chiefly colleges and universities, and once with the British Museum. In 1963 he succeeded Henry M. Wriston as president of the Assembly held that post until his retirement in 1979.

 

He was a member of a number of ad hoc public advisory groups and panels, including the Citizens Advisory Commission on Higher Education in New Jersey, the public advisory committee of the Labor-Management Institute of Rutgers University, and in the 1960's was consultant to Mayor J. Erik Jonsson's Goals for Dallas project.

 

From 1960 he was a member/director of the Public Affairs Committee, Inc., a publisher of Public Affairs Pamphlets, and for years served as its chairman. He was also a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and the Century Association.

 

He had four children by his marriage to Margaret Stebbins of New York. After her death in 1972, he was married to Evelyn Baker Angell, in 1974, until her death in 1997. Mr. Nelson now lives in retirement in Tempe, Arizona, near one of his daughters.

 

Portions of this book have been published by the Noah Webster Foundation as an essay. Finally, it is noted with irony (and as an afterthought) that the "spellcheck" of the word processing program being used to prepare this book for publication does not even recognize the word "Webster." It responds with "not in the dictionary; no suggestions!"

 

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Post Script--Clifford Colmer Nelson died at his home in Tempe, Arizona on February 24, 2001. Memorial services were held in Tempe and at St. Paul's Chapel, Columbia University, New York City.