The long-time owner of Waldameer Park and Water World has died.

While many have shared memories and stories with paul nelson on social media throughout the day, local leaders are sharing how they’ll look back on the impact that he’s had in Erie.

Those who knew Paul Nelson said he lived a life of service and passion for Waldameer Park and Water World.

Nelson had worked at the park since he was 11 years old and took charge in 1965 before eventual ownership in 1978.

And despite his age, he would try to spend every day working in the park, but why?

“I do it because I love Waldameer,” said Paul Nelson

Waldameer has been a Millcreek staple and family destination for decades.

“It’s funny — when I think about Waldameer, when I first started going when I was six years old to what it is now. His footprint is probably three times as big as it was when I was six years old,” said Kim Clear, Millcreek Township supervisor.

Clear added Nelson always looked to reinvest in Waldameer hoping to make it bigger and better for the community. She said he was always so excited when he would approach the township with a new idea for the park.

Now, Steve Gorman, the park’s current president and general manager, will look to follow in Nelson’s footsteps working to improve the park even more for the community.

“We’re very lucky to have Waldameer. I don’t think many communities have a good place to go to take the family, to do things, to enjoy rides, but he did a lot of great things. The improvements he made to Waldameer during his lifetime are incredible. I enjoyed working with him on that and we’ll really miss him,” said Mayor Joe Schember, City of Erie.

Nelson leaves behind quite a lot to remember him by and his impact will continue to be felt for generations to come.

“His legacy I think is in the childhood memories that every person that grew up in Erie takes with them forever,” Clear added.