Don Nelson 1928-2016

Don Nelson 1928-2016



Mourning the passing of retired staff member Don Nelson

Please join me in offering condolences to family and friends of retired staff member Don Nelson, who passed away on Sunday, Nov. 20, in Fredericton. He was 88.

Don was a fixture of the UNB Fredericton campus as coach of the men’s football and basketball teams, the latter of which he coached for 32 years. Don retired in 1988, but his passion for sports and dedication to UNB never wavered. He spent every fall watching the men’s and women’s basketball teams play, and as a proud honorary member of the UNB Alumni Association, attended every university activity he could. 


Throughout his career at UNB, Don had a number of highlights and received many accolades. During the 1966-67 season, the men’s basketball team won the Atlantic championship and advanced to the nationals. He also coached the men’s football team to two Maritime titles. Don received the Basketball New Brunswick service award for coaching in 1982 and was recognized by the National Association of Basketball Coaches of Canada in 1984. In 1995, UNB established two scholarships in Don’s name.


Don was named to the New Brunswick Sports Hall of Fame in 2001. In his time as a coach, he was a role model for hundreds of student-athletes and colleagues alike. Don admired every player who stepped on the court or field, which was reflected in his coaching style. His humbleness, genuine personality, and thoughtful speech made him a beloved and influential sporting figure in New Brunswick. Don was a true gentleman to all who encountered him.


A funeral service will be held at St. Paul’s United Church in Fredericton on Sunday, Nov. 27 at 3 p.m. A celebration of Don’s life will immediately follow at the Wu Conference Centre on campus.


Flags will be lowered on both the Fredericton and Saint John campuses on Sunday and the UNB men’s basketball team will hold a moment of silence for Don at their game on Saturday. Condolences can be made online.


Don will be deeply missed.




Eddy Campbell

President and Vice-Chancellor