Bay Ridge mourns the death of beloved member of community Artie Nelson to coronavirus

Brooklyn mourns a beloved Bay Ridge resident who put a smile on the faces of locals over several decades.

74-year-old Artie Nelson, who was a bartender at J.J. Bubbles, 7912 3rd Ave., died on Friday, April 10 due to coronavirus.

Nelson was born and raised in Bay Ridge in 1946. He attended Fort Hamilton High School and was one of seven siblings (Barbara, Tommy, Barney, Patsy, Elaine and Terry). He was a retired ironworker out of Local 197 and worked part time as a bartender at the Bay Ridge and for over 10 years.

Photos courtesy of the Nelson family.

Nelson was a beloved husband of Lorraine Nelson, father to Lauren Lockwood and Regina McCarthy and grandfather to Andrew and Natalie Cintron, and Lia and Ryan Lockwood. He is also a brother to Thomas, Patsy, Barbara and Barney and brother-in-law and uncle to many.

Lockwood told this paper about his final days.

“He was a very strong and healthy man that contracted the virus that ultimately cost him his life,” she said. “He fought for two weeks in the hospital and never on a ventilator or in the ICU. The worst part for us coming from such a tight family was seeing him leave for the ER on Friday, March 27th and never seeing him again. Like so many other families in this position, we couldn’t visit him, or talk to him. This virus took the center of our family and left us with an empty hole that will never be filled.”

Despite the tragic loss, Lockwood discussed what her father meant to her and the Bay Ridge community he loved so much.

“His life revolved around his family and friends,” she said. “He was the most selfless man you would ever meet and always put other people first. People often say if you met Artie one time, you would feel like you knew him a lifetime. He had the natural ability that many people don’t have, which is he made people feel at ease and so comfortable when talking to them. He was the life of the party and the one you wanted to sit next to. Everyone loved Artie.”

Described by his family as a funny and smart man as well as a historian, great dancer and Yankees fan, Nelson had a strong love for family, especially his wife Lorraine

“The best part of my Dad was how much he loved my Mom,” Lockwood said. “I think that’s the part that stings the most. He was so in love with her. He opened up the car door for her. He wouldn’t let her carry any bags. He drove her to the express bus every morning which was two blocks away just so she wouldn’t have to walk in the dark. They danced together. They laughed together, they were best friends. That’s how I’ll always remember them.”

His favorite Bay Ridge haunts were Hunter’s Steak and Ale House, Status Q, Chadwick’s and Pipin’s Pub.

McCarthy also discussed the impact her father had on others.

“He was a loving family man, husband, father, brother, uncle, grandfather to my two children Natalie and Andrew and friend,” she said. “People gravitated towards him because he was so kind, educated and made you feel like you were the most important person in the room.”

She shared memories of him with his grandchildren and wife.

“He drove my daughter to school from the age of six to date to her senior year in Fontbonne,” McCarthy added. “He drove my mother to the bus every morning which was only a couple of blocks to make sure she was safe and waited until the bus left before leaving. He was the glue to our family and so selfless.”

Artie’s brother Thomas added to memories of hm, including attending his 70th birthday party.

“Author has lived in Brooklyn for 68 years and was an icon in the neighborhood,” he said. “I went to the 70th birthday party and at least 50 people came up to me to let me know how wonderful my brother was. He was always there to take someone to the hospital doctors appointments and shopping. I will miss him very much.”

Artie’s niece Dawn Nelson also shared the impact he had on her life after her father died.

“He was the uncle I was closest to growing up as we only lived blocks away from each other in Bay Ridge,” she said. “My father died in 2006 and my uncle became like a second father to me. I felt my father’s presence so strongly when I was around him which brought me so much comfort as I’m sure being around me did for him.”

She added that, “He had a really funny sense of humor and similar mannerisms like my father. The memory I will cherish most was when my uncle Artie lit the grandparent candle in my father’s place at my oldest daughter’s sweet 16. We surprised him with this honor and he cried. We all cried. We would spend the summers at his house eating his barbecue and swimming in the pool. We always joked how he gave us warm cans of soda and ice.”

Dawn also shared some of the funnier memories she had of him.

“He really wanted a hot tub so he bought a ‘portable’ hot tub for his backyard and he joked about how many times the pump would break down and how many times he had it replaced before he finally gave up,” she said. “He had plans to move to New Jersey with my cousin and one of his first contributions to her backyard was going to be a hot tub. He was so loved and will be so missed. My life will never be the same without him and I will never feel that connection I had with my father again. We are just so heartbroken.”

Dawn’s husband Edwin Roman discussed Artie’s kind heart.

“Artie was the kind of person that made you comfortable in any atmosphere,” he explained. “He was a tradesman (ironworker) who loved to talk about work and the whole way of life and he loved to share stories of his days on different sites. Artie made you feel like you mattered and always gave you a comfortable and warm welcome. When life would allow, my family and my kids would spend hours in Artie’s pool and we would sit back and talk about sports and he loved to chew the fat with me about boxing.”

He also talked about Artie’s impact on the community.

“Artie knew how to work the room and make even the strangest of strangers feel like part of the group and by the end of it you felt like family,” Roman added. “Artie was a true gentleman and one of Bay Ridge’s most loved citizens. He will forever be deeply missed by his family and I will always love his charismatic sense of humor and how he shared his life stories.”

Locals also felt the impact of his death.

“Artie Nelson was the salt of the earth. Ironworker, Yankee fan, family man,” said Councilmember Justin Brannan. “I grew up with his daughter Lauren and I distinctly remember Artie reading me the riot act when I first got my driver’s license. He always gave you a good laugh and some tough love. Artie was just a really good guy with a big heart. This virus is a thief and it seems to be hell-bent on taking good people from us. Artie will really be missed by so many people who he touched in Bay Ridge and beyond.”

That’s my customer,” wrote a friend on Facebook. “Great guy. I cut his hair four weeks ago.”

“Great Guy,” added another friend. “Very sorry to have heard this…Condolences to Lorraine and family. Rest In Peace in Heaven Artie.”

“Amazing man,” wrote another. “Artie was loved by all. RIP precious friend. We love you.”

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