Large Crowd Gathers to Recognize Retiring Dr. James Nelson
Last updated 12/11/2019 at 9:13am
The Lake Wales hospital cafeteria filled with people Sunday bidding a fond farewell to Dr. James Nelson and his wife Janie, who are moving to Southwest Georgia.
There were hugs, tears and stories about what the doctor meant to them and in some cases how he saved their lives. Former patients talked about the deep relationships Nelson built, taking time to talk about not only health issues but their shared faith in Jesus Christ. Several related how Nelson helped them through difficult times and prayed with them.
Nelson recently retired after practicing medicine in Lake Wales for 33 years. He has been a member of the active staff at AdventHealth Lake Wales (formerly Lake Wales Medical Center) since 1986, serving in several leadership positions, including two terms as Chief of Staff, Vice Chief of Staff, and Chief of Medicine. A former member of the hospital's Board of Trustees, Dr. Nelson also served as Medical Director for the hospital's Wound Care Center, and as Physician Advisor for the hospital.
A large contingent of doctors and other medical professionals joined friends, family and patients at the farewell reception.
"Dr. Nelson has been taking care of patients in our community for 33 years, and we know how deeply loved and respected he is," said Rebecca Brewer, Chief Operating Officer at the hospital. "Our community will miss him, and we wish him well in his retirement."
Brewer noted that Nelson had seen 120,000 patients in his career.
Mayor Eugene Fultz presented a city proclamation recognizing Nelson's service and designating Dec. 8 at Dr. James A. Nelson Recognition Day.
The Nelsons' daughter-in-law Kelly, who has been married 35 years to their son Jimmy, talked about their special relationship and sang "Great is Thy Faithfulness." Earlier she and trumpet player Charlie Topp Hines entertained the gathering crowd, who lined up to offer hugs and goodbye messages.
Among those offering special tributes were Lake Wales Care Center Executive Director Rob Quam, Dr. Mahesh Allam, Nelson's son Jimmy and local cattle ranchers and brothers, Carey and Layne Lightsey.