Farewell Fellow Worker: Eugene Nelson 1929-1999

From: Industrial Workers of the World News

Carlos Cortez
July 1999

Fellow Worker Eugene Nelson succumbed to a massive double stroke in Haleiwa, Hawaii a few months before his seventieth birthday. Fellow Worker Gene had been a long supporter of the IWW as well as a frequent contributor to the pages of the Industrial Worker. He first came in contact with the IWW during the early '60s when he stopped off at the IWW's General Headquarters while following a load of scab melons in his capacity as roving organizer for the United Farm Workers. He was sufficiently impressed that he subsequently lined up with the organization.

Gene was also a writer who has a number of published works to his credit. Through his organizing for the United Farm Workers and his close association with Cesar Chaves in those years he wrote the book "Huelga! The First One Hundred Days of the Delano Grape Strike" that was published by the UFW. Through those experiences he wrote the novel, "Bracero" which has undergone numerous publications including translations in Russia and Sweden and is destined to become classic. In 1975 he published "Pablo Cruz and the American Dream", a fictionalized account of an undocumented farm worker.

In 1971 he wrote the introduction to "The Centralia Conspiracy" which was republished by Armadillo Press, an IWW shop. In 1993 he had published "Break Their Haughty Power Joe Murphy in the Heyday of the Wobblies", a biographical novel about one of the old IWW stalwarts. Under his own meager finances he published a few more books: "Poems, Sane and Insane" in 1992 under the pseudonym Harijan. In 1998 he published "Fantasia of a Revolutionary", an imaginative account of the World Revolution emanating from the San Francisco Bay Area, and "Tales of Crapitalism", a collection of short stories of which some appeared in the Industrial Worker. These three aforementioned books published at his own expense were called Infinitive Possibilities Press.

Aside from his tribulations as an underappreciated author, Gene was a staunch supporter of the principles of industrial unionism and had militantly opposed inclusion of political or establishment union functionaries into the ranks of the IWW. By those of us who knew him intimately, he will be missed but at the same time our lives have been enriched!

Carlos Cortez