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Penfield News

- Remembering Dr. Don Nelson-Nasca and open house invitation from his family

Remembering a friend, resident, distinctive and special individual, and long-standing member of the Penfield Local History Room Advisory Committee…and an open house invitation as "Penfield says Goodbye to Donald Nelson-Nasca, a Renaissance Man."

Don’s partner, Diane, and his family would like to invite you to an open house event to join them in Don's Celebration of Life on Friday, June 14 from 2:00 to 7:00 PM at 1661 Sweets Corners Road, Fairport, NY 14450 (in Penfield!). This is a chance to be together, share memories, good times, view Don's extensive hobbies in their home and barn, enjoy some food and beverages, and celebrate this exceptional Renaissance man.

For those interested, Don's Funeral Mass will be held at 11:00 AM on Saturday, June 15 at Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 152 Main Street Brockport, NY 14420.

Dr. Donald Nelson-Nasca passed away suddenly at age 85 on Wednesday, January 16, 2019. He graduated from Fredonia High School, Fredonia College, earned an MS in Science at Cornell, and his EdD in Education at the University of Buffalo in 1965. Don’s 50-year career touched thousands of students, faculty, teachers, and administrators throughout the Greater Rochester area, NYS, and the USA. He thrived on research, writing, teaching, and evaluating programs/projects at all levels. Don’s greatest joys were inspiring students to create, explore, develop new knowledge, question, and solve problems. 

Dr. Nasca’s illustrious career included 48 years as a professor at Brockport College, a year teaching science in Brighton, and a year as Headmaster of Calasanctius in Buffalo, a school for gifted children. In the 1970s, Don was President of the NYS Gifted Association. He professed his love and knowledge of gifted education throughout the US, Canada, and Brazil. This interest led him to accept an invitation to serve as Clinical Professor in Residence in Brockport’s International Teaching Center at Escola American do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for 18 months.

Don loved science and nature. This is seen in his early years teaching 8th grade science in the Brockport Campus School, his doctoral thesis via UB, development of hands-on science kits for Instructor magazine, and dozens of articles published in journals and magazines. 

Don was a Renaissance man, as mirrored in his academia world, hobbies, and home. At 63, he learned to fly an airplane. He was an antique buff, evident in their 1910 restored home and 1840s hand hewn beam barn. Antiques, primitives, and duck decoys fill the home. He shared his expertise with the Penfield community as a distinguished member of the Town’s Local History Room Advisory Committee. 

Don was also a natural athlete playing basketball until age 75! He fished, hunted, biked, hiked, canoed, kayaked, wind surfed, ran, swam, and played golf, tennis, and handball. Don rode motorcycles and even learned to scuba dive at 49. A photographer, marksman, and remote-control model plane builder, are additional hobbies. In 2012, he became a wine maker winning NYS Fair awards. 

Don's love of science is seen in his property and lifestyle. Don and Diane have five beautiful acres filled with apple trees, a vegetable garden, lush flower beds, a waterfall pond that Don built, dozens of trees, and manicured lawns. The naturalist is evident in Don's own oil and acrylic paintings, selection of art work, Remington sculptures, Bierstadt, Robert Bateman, and Andrew Wyeth paintings, music, and furnishings. He was a carpenter and master woodworker and his creations are echoed in home decor, furniture, a wrap-around porch, and tiered deck that he built with his son. Don loved travel, musicals, theater, and mysteries. 

Don’s expertise and activities relating to the Civil War developed in the last fifteen years. Don possesses a collection of original letters his Civil War great-great grandfather sent home which inspired him to "research" Civil War stories and collect other Civil War items, including artifacts and uniforms. In retirement, he immensely enjoyed sharing his knowledge and some of his collection with others; for example, delivering PowerPoint presentations in full Civil War uniform with musket and artifact displays for students and organizations.

As you might imagine, Don donated his body to the University of Rochester for medical research. One would say that Don loved research, right to the end!

If you plan to stop in at the open-house please let Diane know by calling 377-0503.

Town of Penfield
3100 Atlantic Ave, Penfield, New York, 14526 - (585) 340-8600
© 2019 Town of Penfield