Former Huntington mayor Bobby Nelson passes away

HUNTINGTON, W.Va (WSAZ) -- Former mayor of Huntington Bobby Nelson has passed away.

Nelson served as mayor of Huntington from 1986 to 1993.

He is remembered as the first strong mayor after Huntington went under a new city charter in 1986.

Huntington Mayor Steve Williams released a statement on the passing of Nelson:

"A giant champion of the rights of all departed us today. Mayor Bobby Nelson built his life around creating a voice for the voiceless, offering opportunities for the disenfranchised and hope to the hopeless. He served our city over a span of four decades, whether it be in the West Virginia House of Delegates, the state Senate, as mayor of the City of Huntington or host of a popular radio show. He was never shy about advocating for those causes which drew his interests. Our community is better because of the leadership he provided. I valued my friendship with Mayor Nelson and call on all Huntingtonians to hold his family in our prayers.”

Nelson served as a U.S. Marine in the 1950s and later graduated from Marshall University.

During his time in the state Legislature, he was known as "The Voice of Marshall University", working hard to enhance the university. Nelson helped pass legislation that led to the building of the Cam Henderson Center and the Joan C. Edwards Stadium.

During his time as Huntington mayor, Nelson turned then county-owned Cabell Huntington Hospital into a public, nonprofit hospital, in turn developing Marshall University's School of Medicine.

Nelson was instrumental in bringing baseball to Huntington by persuading the Chicago Cubs to have a rookie team make Huntington its home in the 90s.

Nelson was also passionate about helping the homeless and celebrating Huntington's rich black history.