Richard (Dick) Nellius, who had distinguished careers as a Florida prize-winning journalist, a senior congressional adviser and federal Interior Department official, died peacefully at his home in Dunn Loring, Virginia, on January 8, 2021, after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Mr. Nellius was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. on September 7, 1931, the son of Earl Nellius and Julia Blundi. He served four years in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, then earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree, and a Major in English Literature, at Columbia University, in New York City. He began his journalistic career as a reporter at the Chester News in Chester, Pennsylvania, and then moved to Florida where, for more than a decade, he served as a reporter and editor with two of the state’s major newspapers in Florida. He was a reporter and assistant city editor of The Miami News, the city’s Pulitzer-winning afternoon newspaper, and then became a political reporter for the St. Petersburg Times, where he earned the Florida Press Association’s top prize for feature writing. He also served as director of the Miami International Press Club. Fellow workers remember Dick Nellius as a fellow who was always willing to take the time to help younger colleagues develop their careers.
Then Mr. Nellius began what became a long career in politics, where he wound up serving in significant positions with prominent figures in both Democratic and Republican parties and dealt with a wide range of major domestic and global policies. He worked as a campaign adviser for Rep. Dante B. Fascell (D-FL) and became director of communications for the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by Fascell, where he worked with Fascell on issues ranging from Latin American affairs to the investigation of the controversial Iran-Contra in the 1980s. He served as a media director for Rep. William C. Cramer (R-FL), then became administrative assistant and press director for Rep. C.W. (Bill) Young (R-FL), and later, administrative assistant for Rep. Margaret Heckler (R-MA).
Mr. Nellius later served in the U.S. Interior Department, where he was director of public affairs for the department’s Office of Surface Mining and media director of the U.S. Mining, Enforcement and Safety Administration, where he created an award-winning monthly magazine. He also was the vice president of communications for the American Chiropractic Association, and worked in public relations, handling accounts for clients that included the International Air Cargo Association and the California Commission on Drugs.
During his extensive career in journalism, government and politics, he also made time to serve his own neighborhood communities. He was president of the Miami-Roads Neighborhood Civic Association – one of the oldest and most active in South Florida. And he later served as president of the Tysons Executive Village Homeowners Association in Dunn Loring, Virginia.
Mr. Nellius is survived by his wife Doris Garay-Nellius, daughter Lynn, and grandchildren, Selina and Jalen, of Dunn Loring; and daughter Kelley, of Bradenton, Florida. He was pre-deceased by his daughter, Stacey, who died in childhood. He is also survived by his brother Weston (Pete) of Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, his cousin Millie Poore from New York City, numerous relatives and many friends, who remember him for his easy laugh and warm, caring ways.
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