Street Renaming Honors Valdosta Public Servant

| May 12, 2016


VALDOSTA – On Saturday, May 14 at 10 a.m., Valdosta citizens will gather for a ceremony to officially rename Laurel Avenue, which runs from the entrance to the west end of Sunset Hill Cemetery, to Melvin Nelson Way.

The Valdosta City Council unanimously approved the street renaming, which was originally proposed by Councilman Sonny Vickers, at the March 24 City Council meeting.

Nelson worked at Sunset Hill Cemetery for 44 years, serving for many of those years as the Cemetery Supervisor. With the help of local residents, Nelson discovered numerous unmarked slave graves, and his efforts played a large part in the construction and dedication of the Sunset Hill Cemetery’s Unknown Slaves Memorial in 1996.

Nelson was a respected member of the Valdosta and Lowndes County communities and was a friend to all who visited Sunset Hill. His faithfulness as a public servant and his outstanding local contribution to the establishment of the Unknown Slaves Memorial are the reasons why friends and family members requested the street be named in his memory.

Several Valdosta leaders will be present at the event, including Mayor Pro Tem Alvin Payton, Jr., City Councilman Sonny Vickers, and current Sunset Hill Cemetery Supervisor Mark Coppage.

The public is invited to the street renaming event at Sunset Hill Cemetery and to the reception following, which will take place in the Valdosta City Hall Annex Multi-Purpose Room (located at 300 N. Lee Street). For more information, contact Rachel Bradley at 229-630-7252 or

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5 Comments on "Street Renaming Honors Valdosta Public Servant"

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  1. Sheilda Ann "Nelson" Miller says:

    It is with great pleasure to hear that Valdosta citizens will be renaming Laurel Avenue, in honor of my Uncle Melvin Nelson he was one of the greatest and most respected person of my time. He was a carbon copy of my grandfather Rufus Nelson SR.who also worked for the city of Valdosta.The family will be proud that the city he loved has bestoyed such an honor to him. RIP UNK love you Ann

  2. Melvie "Baby Ruth" Nelson Maxwell says:

    Congratulations on the renaming Laurel Avenue after my Uncle Melvin Nelson.He was like a Father to me rather than my uncle,All of the nieces and nephews miss him dearly.We miss him.Much love.Baby Ruth

  3. Ruthie"daddy's baby"Bradshaw says:

    Congratulations on naming a street in Valdosta after my favorite brother-in-law Melvin Nelson I am happy to hear the city of Valdosta has taken the time to recognize a most respected and honorable man Melvin and his family put in a lot of hours working for the city of Valdosta again congratulations Daddy’s Baby

  4. C Perry Crawford says:

    It is a beautiful remembrance and an honor for a man who did so much for so many. The families of the departed owe Mr Melvin more than they can repay. He took care of all inside those plots no matter who they were. He was a good man, and is missed by all who knew and loved him.