Nelson Paul grew up on the rural, central, North Carolina coast, in a farming, fishing, and hunting family. His family was involved in the soft crab and shrimping business, along with farming tobacco, corn, soybeans, and watermelons. He graduated from East Carteret High School in Beaufort, NC, and received a BA degree in Environmental Studies from UNC-Wilmington. From college, Nelson worked as a field consultant for the NC Division of Coastal Management, and from there, as an environmental consultant. Presently, Nelson and his wife, Dianna, are both real estate agents, and over the past 20 years, have initiated hundreds of successful real estate transactions. Nelson and Dianna have been married for 42 years. They have four children and seven grandchildren.