Frederick Nelson Stover, born in Robinson, Illinois, graduated from James Whitcomb Riley High School, in South Bend,Indiana in 1963 and Purdue University with a BSc in Computer Science and Minors in English and Philosophy in 1967. He financed his education by working as head waiter in a men’s dormitory and as the Interim United Church of Christ (UUC) campus minister in his final year of college. He met Elaine Kay Williams, his future wife, during the assignment. They married on June 10, 1967.
Nelson graduated from Chicago Theological Seminary in 1970. He was ordained into the UCC and assigned to its social ministry. His association with the Ecumenical Institute (EI) from 1964 to 1970 led to a staff position with EI and with its sister organization, the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA).His ministry took Nelson to the Appalachian Mountains in the USA, Australia, Egypt and India, where he facilitated a wide range of grassroots human development movement training and comprehensive community development, planning and evaluation programs in Australia, Egypt, the Appalachia, Mountains, and India. The Adivasi Ashram Shalla in Chikhale Village School, located outside Panvel, India, held a special place in Nelson’s heart. He helped establish this school to educate tribal children, a population who was historically denied education. The school opened with only a first grade class. Over the years, additional grades were added, and today, it is a thriving first through twelth grade school. While living in Belgium, Nelson used his unique facilitation and computer skills to design and implement office information systems and web-based Constituent Managed Relationship systems for Belgian companies and NC non-profit associations.
In 1991, the Stover family moved to North Carolina (NC) to serve as the Associate Director for the NC Poverty Project’s Influential Sectors program. From 1993-2003 he worked as a technical support staff at Intelligent Technologies in Greensboro, NC. Throughout his adult life, Nelson’s relationship with ICA continued through his participation in shaping the future directions of ICA-USA’s Community Revitalization Team and his service on the board of ICA-USA and later as President of the Board of Directors of ICA International. During the 1990s, he was involved in the ICA-Greensboro initiatives such as LifeStyle Simplification, Sustainable Development, Technologies of Participation®, and Fostering Global Understanding.
Nelson was an active member in the community. He was a long-time member of the Unitarian Universalist Church and served a three year term on their Board of Directors. He also served on the Sandy Ridge Correctional Center Community Relations Council and was a president of the Square-Dancing Club. In addition, the Stovers were founding members of the Center for Ecozoic Studies and Nelson served as Treasurer of the Board and chair of their curriculum development team for five years.
In 2013, Nelson helped found Emerging Ecology, a non-profit dedicated to building mutually enhancing relationships between people and the Planet. He served as the chair of the board from 2013-2023. The organization conducts various contextual programs, public presentations, capacity building and the global classroom. Nelson dedicated his life to serving the underserved and working effectively with socially and economically diverse populations. In doing so, he brought joy to many and made the world more beautiful.
Elaine, Nelson and the two of you, have set such a symbol of awakenment, of cosmic and practical awareness and care, opening new doors for ICA’s local-global grounding and extending the environmental and ecological dimension in our thinking and feeling as earthlings at this time of great transition. We were so happy to have you as partners in learning from Thomas Barry, Brian Swimme, Mathew Fox and many others and opening pathways for change for many people, in understanding of life itself and also their own life purpose and including new aspects of mystery, humility, wonder, gratitude and commitment. Thank you for pouring out your life on behalf of all of us in ICA/O:E, all humans and the whole of creation.
It seems to me that you also lived our wedding announcement quote from EE Cummings: “One is not half two, it’s two are half of one”. It is never fixed or done and remains a daily task and also is the most wonderful experience for many of us. I realise how difficult it must be for you now, Elaine, to carry Nelson with you into the next phase of your life, however long or short it might be. We wish you much confidence and courage in the process of grieving and rebuilding. Blessed be, Shalom
~~ Maria and Richard, Australia
Our thoughts are with Elaine who is now missing Nelson her life partner. I know only a small bit of Nelson’s life, but it has had a large impact. Many have meditated while on his Universe Story Walk in the forest behind his house. More have seen the results of his decades of commitment to the Adivasi Ashram Shalla in Chikhale Village. He recently took on global investments for ICA International. Nelson’s soul of a poet was nurtured by his practical care for the world, and we all have benefitted.
~~ Bill Staples, Toronto
Dear Elaine, Dear ICAers, The Development Institute (The DI) join the brethren to express our condolences to you at the passing away of your life partner and our dear brother Nelson Stover and friend. He shall forever, remain in our hearts.I first came into contact with Nelson when I began attending ICA APRM in 2020. He took interest in what The DI is doing and reached out with calls leading to formal relationship between The DI and Emerging Ecology, 3 years ago. Nelson valued this relationship highly. He sent a board member of Emerging Ecology to visit The DI in Ghana and also sealed it with an MoU between both organizations and also a link to Africa. This kind hearted gesture for service is yet to bear its fruits what can we say?
With a warm heart and sharp mind, Nelson was endowed; to bring clarity and compassion to this world. And he lived this fully. May his creative and caring soul rest in perfect peace. As the old wise saying goes; “when we are related, we shall also meet.” We all are related to Nelson so, we shall meet him again; some time, somehow, somewhere. Nelson good bye and rest in Peace. On behalf of The Development Institute
~~ Ken Kenney, Ghana
My deepest sympathies to the bereaved family. We have lost a great personality with compassion and care for humanity. I was so fortunate to meet Nelson about 25 years ago and since then we have worked a lot together. He has contributed a lot to the society and people in Nepal. We always remember him for his great deeds. May his soul rest in peace.
~~ Tatwa P. Timsina, Nepal
I can’t be without saying how important Nelson Stover’s workshop was during the Social Capital Stream in the International Conference 2004 in Guatemala. I did the translation to Spanish (even though my English is not good. It was easy to understand him because we were talking in the same language of human development. On that occasion Patricia Muñoz (the former Nueva Acrópolis Executive Director in Guatemala) was in that Stream, and she fell in love seeing how the workshop method worked by the great facilitation of Nelson Stover.
After that, in 2005 she invited us ICA Guatemala, to join her in the Youth in Harmony for a Better World program with other partners such Universidad del Valle. As ICA Guatemala I was in charge of the first module on TOP methods training for about 90 teacher students in 3 groups. The youths were from the Ixil Triangle, one of the indigenous areas where the internal war was in place for 36 years. The ICA participative methods also were key to the following modules that were given by Nueva Acropolis and the Universidad del Valle, on the themes in Reconciliation, Relicience, and Project Profile. Sincerely my Condolences to his family and Nelson colleagues.
~~ Joaquina Rodriguez, Guatemala
Our friend Nelson was a man who was very committed to ICA and to social service and working to improve the environmental situation. I met him in India at an ICAI General Assembly, I was impressed to see how they wanted him there, even as part of the family. Fly high Nelson you deserve it after the great work done on earth. And rest in peace.
~~ Isabel de la Maza, Chile
Elaine, i am sorry for the loss of your dear one. I know how much he meant to you. I and the entire team of ICA Tanzania will keep you in our thoughts and prayers. Our sincere condolences should extend to Emerging Ecology and Global ICAI as he has touched our life in different ways in the course of working with us, May his soul rest in eternal peace, Amen
~~ Charles Luoga, Tanzania
Dear Elaine, Thank you to you and Nelson for visiting the Aditi Learning Centre when you were in India around the Lokhande wedding. I wish you deep peace as you work towards recreating your spaces of body, mind and spirit without Nelson’s physical presence. May you continue to be blessed.
~~ Mary Kurian D’Souza, India
Dear Elaine, There are some of our Order family that we vividly remember and cherish, even if we were never “assigned” to work together on a project, and Nelson is one of those for me. I think of him as both a scholar and technician, a great mix of right and left-brain qualities. Our son Ben recently visited the ICA HDP project site in Chikhale on a business trip to India. Ben was there for a year as a 14-year-old, and some of the residents he encountered remembered him 38 years later — but they each remarked with deep gratitude about the influence of Nelson Stover (pronounced with the appropriate Indian accent). Joe and I appreciated Nelson’s enthusiasm and investment in the then-nascent “ecology movement” way back when we participated in a program in North Carolina that featured the work of Brian Swimme, Matt Fox and Father Thomas Berry. At that event we reconnected with Herman Green, a kind of “adopted son” to Joe the first year we were in Chicago, and grew to understand how powerful, important and possible this movement was on behalf of our Planet Earth.
I know at this time, specifically and personally, how exhaustingly challenging it is to say YES to the Mystery, that gives and takes away our beloved ones. I’ve wrestled with that for the past 17 years of Joe’s progressive dementia, and the “long goodbye.” Now I find it helpful to talk aloud with Joe each night, catch him up on the news of my day, and say the Lord’s Prayer with him, something that was our practice each night before turning in. This idea was shared with me by my congregation’s organist, who is only slightly more elderly than I am. Be well, and know that there is always God’s grace and peace,
~~ Marilyn Crocker, Wells, Maine
Thank you for sharing with us the passing of Nelson, one of our poets.
~~ Joan Knutson, Phoenix, Arizona
I join with all the others in the celebration of the one Nelson Stover.
~~. Martha Laird (Talbott), Decatur, Georgia
Add me to the chorus, and I too wish to sing my praise and thank all being for F. Nelson Stover as a most impressive leader, colleague and friend on our corporate and individual journey.
~~ Wendell Refior, Bedford, Massachusetts
Dear colleagues, We celebrate the completed life of Nelson, and the contribution he made to bending history. Grace and Peace,
~~ Robyn Hutchinson NSW, Australia
Dear Elaine and colleagues, Ken and I were sorry to hear of Nelson’s illness and passing. During the years of the expanded Kemper Team, the Stovers hosted us in Greensboro. Nelson took us on “The Universe Walk” around their property and we were very appreciative of such creativity. Their hosting, participation and intentional style was an inspiration to all of us. He was wise, steady, competent and passionate. We have benefited from his example of intentionality and collegiality. We are grateful to have worked with him,
~~ Mary Laura Jones, Ken Otto
The passing of an “iconic” image in my memory, but of a real human as I and Linda have followed his and Elaine’s journey and touched them at points along the way. My first memory of Nelson is from the Town Meeting days. He and Larry Ward were the “Strike Force” leaders in the New England campaign, and led us itinerant campaigners through the 1977-8 victory march, alternating between the Boston (where we were assigned) and Hartford Houses on weekends for fantastic weekend reporting and celebration sessions, and then sending us back out in teams (I was a one-person team in Maine-Tim Karpoff in New Hampshire and Vermont) for the week in between. We will never forget the weekend where Nelson and Larry took us all to see the Star Wars movie and brought us back to the Hartford House for the movie conversation and celebration, including the infamous “line dance” from the bar scene in the movie.
In the years since, we are grateful for the work of Nelson and Elaine on the Lifestyle Simplification Labs, and the work on climate change responses in India and at home. We owe them a lot, both inspirationally and practically. Journey on Nelson!
~~ Milan and Linda Hamilton Redlands, California
Thanks for letting us know about Nelson, Lynda. Our hearts and prayers are with Elaine and all those whose lives Nelson touched. We worked with Nelson and Elaine in “Area New York and Widen” and after that so much appreciated their ecological passion and how they grounded the Universe Story and the Great Work in their own home and in their creative and steadfast work in Greensboro, India and other places. We will miss Nelson’s compassion, writing/poetry, and drive to care for Earth and all that is in it. We mourn his death and celebrate the gift and legacy of his life. Grace and peace ~
~~ Carleton and Ellie Stock, St. Louis, Missouri
Nelson has been our colleague and supported our work globally and specifically in the US and in India. Nelson will be missed and his passion and sense of story will be a part of our collective memory for ever. With love and respect,
~~ Larry and Evelyn Philbrook, Taiwan
Nelson had been a great support to me and to ICA Nepal. I have fond memories of working with him. He will be missed. Nelson will always be in our prayers. May his soul rest in peace.
~~ Ishu Subba, Nepal
I have known Nelson since 1990 when I first met him in Brussels, Belgium. One thing I remember he told me (when I had problem working on a computer) that there is nothing wrong with the computer, there is something wrong with you because the computer will only do what you have commanded it to do. May his soul rest in perfect peace.
~~ Henry Mpapale, Kenya
For us at SNF we remember Nelson for his generosity to our vulnerable children’s program. We shall miss his advise
~~ Richard Kirya, Uganda
i have so many memories of Nelson – when I met him first in India then he came to Bangladesh. I met him again in India and many other occasions we encountered. He will be remembered and I will recall him forever. Rest in peace.
~~ Aziz Rahman, Bangladesh
I first met Mr. Stover at the global conference held in Japan in 2008. I remember Mr. Stover as a passionate and committed person. He will surely be missed.
~~ Yawo Gator Adufu, Togo
I only knew the Stovers through John and Lynda Cock. My experience is rich in spirit, inspiring, admiring of the continuation of the mission and Nelson’s poetry and Elaine’s amazing public gardens. And, oh yes, breakthrough experimentation of internet access in villages. I hold this compassionate pioneer in my memory as an ongoing reminder of our purpose for living. May you grieve peacefully, Elaine.
~~. Judi White, Crescent City, Florida
We celebrate the life and passion and compassion of this fellow North Carolina Care-of-the-Earth guru. Journey on, dear colleague with Grace and Peace,
~~ Lynda and John Cock, Davidson, North Carolina
This is indeed sad news. Our hearts go out to his family.
~~ John Miller, Canada
My condolences go out to the Nelson family. He was a wonderful person. I met him for the first time online in 2012. I was struck by the picture behind him. This is how I first learned about our sustainability pyramid. I was surprised by the power of his service to this picture. Nelson was the one who supported my work at the UN and perhaps the only one who thanked me for it. I am incredibly grateful to him and happy that he met on my life path. May you rest in peace and love…
~~ Svitlana Salamatova, Ukraine
So many great memories but so few words to express my gratitude for this exceptional human being. I’m just so thankful that our lives crossed, in so many places and in such varied circumstances. His life was pure gift to us all. Blessings, Elaine.