Bernard"Bernie"Nelson was born in Cass Lake, Cass County, Minnesota, and died in Concord, Contra Costa County, California, at the age of 55 after a protracted illness. He attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison, receiving his B.S. in 1956. He then moved to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he earned a M. S. in 1960. He subsequently was awarded the Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1967 with a major in Parasitology. His dissertation was titled A revision of the New World species of Ricinus (Mallophaga) on Passeriformes (Aves).
In 1969 Dr. Nelson was awarded a National Institutes of Health Fellowship and under it studied the ecology of bird lice for the next two years with Murray at the McMaster Animal Health Laboratory in New South Wales, Australia. Upon his return to the United States, he joined the California Department of Health Services, Environmental Management Branch, as a Parasitologist. He became the head of the Zoonoses Unit in 1978, where he pursued a distinguished and productive career in the control and prevention of plague and other vector-borne diseases until he became ill.
The above information was taken, in part, from an obituary by A. M. Barnes, published in Flea News. 40: 351 (1990).
On a personal note, Bernie and I were good friends, primarily as a result of us working on our doctoral dissertations at the same time and exchanging specimens and guidance. I met him only once, in London, in 1970, when he was returning from Australia with his wife Caroline and their children. I was also in London with my family, working with Theresa Clay on Ischnocera from the Picidae. One evening Theresa hosted Bernie and Caroline, my wife and I, for dinner at her South Kensington home. Bernie was a lively conversationalist and regaled us with stories of their trip from Australia to London with very small children. Theresa wanted to know more about his research on the biology of lice, but our wives requested that conversation take place in the Museum and that Theresa show us around her beautiful town-house, which she did reluctantly. For reasons I no longer recall, Bernie did not return to the Museum the next day, and our future contact was restricted to telephone conversations and mail. (Dalgleish, 2003)
Barnes, A. M. 1990. Flea News. 40:351