YOU ALWAYS KNEW when Ace Nelson was in the room.
His booming voice announced his presence, and when you looked up, there he was in his stylish threads, ready to take on the world.
"Julius exuded self-confidence," his family said.
Julius "Ace" Nelson Sr., a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., who came to Philadelphia as a child, a man of many talents, proud of his job as a city street sweeper and union officer and a Marine veteran, died Nov. 23 of a brain tumor. He was 56 and was living in Wilmington, Del.
Julius was an outstanding football player, both at Edward Bok Vocational High School, from which he graduated, and in the Marine Corps.
At Bok, he made the All-Public team. He joined the Marine Corps in June 1975, and played football on service teams. He also distinguished himself as a marksman, winning medals.
He was discharged in 1977 and joined the Sanitation Division of the Philadelphia Streets Department the following year.
"Julius could be seen all over the city in his mechanical broom, proudly cleaning the streets," his family said.
He served as a shop steward and treasurer of the city blue-collar union, AFSCME District Council 33. He retired from the city in 2003.
Julius was born in Brooklyn, one of the six children of Loretta Nelson and the late Roosevelt Nelson. He grew up in South Philadelphia.
He was a talented musician and enjoyed playing the bass guitar. He was fond of oldies music.
Julius was also a devoted member of From the Heart Church, 20th and Pacific streets, Tioga, where he was always available to take on anything that needed doing. He also encouraged family members to join the church.
Most of all, Julius was a family man. He cherished his children and grandchildren.
"He was frequently caught bragging about them and their accomplishments," his family said. "He enjoyed family gatherings and outings."
His daughter, Erica Nelson, wrote a poem to her father in which she told of dreaming about him:
I am missing you deeply,
But this is not the end.
When I close my eyes
I'll be sure to see you
In my dreams again.
He also is survived by his mother; three sons, Julius Nelson Jr., Jovace Nelson and Roemello Nelson; two brothers, Mark and Roosevelt Nelson; and eight grandchildren.