Obituary of Roger Nelson
December 24, 2023
28 April, 1951 - 24 December, 2023
Roger was a native New Yorker, but also loved London, the city where he spent more than 40 years of his life, married, raised his beloved twin daughters and founded one of Europe’s top ten PR consultancies with his best friend Martin.
He was born in Manhattan - his mom Rose Marie went into labor in the Empire State Building - it doesn’t get much more New York than that. Roger was a typical American – a German-Jewish, Polish American, Puerto Rican Creole Indian Swede.
The city was his playground; along with younger siblings Greg and Vicky, he roamed Central Park, the then Idlewild Airport and generally got into a ton of mischief. Excelling academically, he gained admission to NYC’s prestigious Stuyvesant High School, but it wasn’t to be. In 1965, his dad Walter and stepmother Rita moved the family to Europe, eventually settling down in southwest London. After a year studying philosophy at university in Germany, he transferred to King’s College London and completed two years before dropping out. To his father's chagrin (he'd had to drop out of Columbia University when Roger was born), Roger got the education but didn't stick around to get the degree. Eager to enter the world of work, he started off pumping gas (imagine his Dad's delight) and worked his way up through various jobs more suited to his talents before settling on a career in public relations. His creativity, vision, and superb writing skills served him well. After a stint working with dad Walter, in 1987, Roger and best friend Martin founded their own agency – Nelson Bostock Communications. Based in a trendy mews in Notting Hill Gate, they started with just one client and a dream. By the time Rog retired 25 years later, the agency had 100 employees, a client roster that included Facebook, Amazon, Canon, Toshiba, Panasonic, and Bacardi-Martini, and had won an embarrassment of industry awards and plaudits. NBC still marches on successfully today, still based in London, though Roger and Martin sold the business to a listed UK media group in 2002 and – in due course – moved on to pastures new.
In 1986, Roger met Sally, who’d been hired as a PR grunt by Walter. They quickly became close and eventually married in September 1991. Twin daughters Atlanta and Miranda were born the following year, and his family was the greatest joy of his life. And then some. Every spare moment he had, he worshipped the twins with his camera, leaving behind a rich trove of photos and film of his family, for which we are deeply grateful. Together with the girls, the whole family learned to scuba dive and enjoyed many technicolored adventures around the equator. He was never happier than when finning along a coral reef in warm, sunlit water and even dived on his 70th birthday. In 2007, the family relocated from London to New York City to give the girls the benefit of a transatlantic upbringing, where they lived mostly in the gorgeous, historic district of Harlem and upstate New York in the Catskill Mountains.
Roger was previously married to Diana Hendriks, and they remained great friends until her untimely death in 2018. Sally and Roger were legal guardians to Diana’s son Tom, the child of a subsequent relationship.
Although Roger’s death was sudden and heartbreaking, we are comforted by the fact that he didn’t suffer and was full of optimism and cheer in the last few weeks of his life, planning imminently to move back to the UK. He and Sally were overjoyed that Miranda and Atlanta, with her partner Ted, were happy, healthy, and settled in their careers and apartments in Brooklyn. Just days before he died, we took around adopted kittens as a Christmas gift for Ted and Atlanta and cherish the memory of that happy family evening. Our ancient rescue cat Minx – she and Roger were mutually besotted with one another – is living out her golden years with Miranda.
Roger lived it large, drove fast, and had more adventures than can be counted. He lived an extraordinary life with nothing to regret. We’ll remember him for his love, kindness, fierce intelligence, his brio, utter disregard for the rules, and creative flair. It’s just we’ll miss him so. We love you, Roger, truly, madly, and deeply.
Roger is survived by wife Sally, daughters Miranda and Atlanta, brother Gregory, sisters Victoria and Samantha, nephews Maxwell and Matthew (Roger’s godson), and nieces Selene and Zelda.
IN LIEU OF FLOWERS
If you are so moved please make a contribution to one of the following nonprofits/charities dear to Roger’s heart:
- The Emmett Till Interpretive Center. Fostering racial healing and reconciliation in the Mississippi delta – often considered America’s ground zero for civil rights: https://www.emmett-till.org/
- International Rescue Committee. Helping people facing humanitarian crises worldwide: rescue.org
- Human Rights Campaign. Working to promote full equality for the LGBTQ community: hrc.org
- MIND. Fighting to provide support, empowerment and respect for anyone experiencing a mental health problem in England and Wales: mind.org.uk
Share a Memory
The Obituaries are currently being upgraded. Please contact us to report any issues.
Thank you, Roger, for being a marvellous host to two complete strangers - one of us even a complete stranger to Sally - on our visit to New York in 2015. We're privileged to have met you. Laura and Shelley
Posted by: Laura Woodruff - Cardiff, UK - Friend January 23, 2024