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Gary Nielsen
February 14, 1947 -- November 06, 2020

On Friday, November 6th 2020, Gary Ray Nielsen, loving father, grandfather, brother and friend passed away peacefully after a long battle with COPD at the age of 73.

Gary was born on Valentine’s Day 1947 in Kadoka, South Dakota to Pete and Charline Nielsen. A little towheaded boy with a sweet smile and talking eyes he worked to find his own in a household with three sisters. But when Gary found sports, he found his joy! As early as the age of 10 he was active in Kadoka athletic programs beginning with little league baseball. He continued to play thru his teen years into adulthood. From 5th grade on Gary played competitive basketball and in high school he added football as well. During his high school years he spent summers working at his father’s business learning the ropes but during the school year after school was for sports. He just loved to dance and at sock hops you could find him doing the stroll, the twist and the jitterbug. He lettered in football and basketball graduating in May of 1965.

Gary enlisted in the Army National Guard in October of 1965. He completed his Basic and AIT training at Ft Leonard Wood, Missouri then served in the 214th Engineering Company in Phillip, South Dakota until his honorable discharge in October of 1971.

Gary married his high school sweetheart, Carol Young in May of 1966. They attended USD in Vermillion and returned summers where he managed the Camp Dakota Camp Ground. He received a Bachelor’s of Science in Recreation from the University of South Dakota in May of 1972 but was trained as a butcher as his father owned the locker plant in Kadoka and chose to work in that field.

Gary and Carol raised two children together, daughter Wendy and son Chad in Rapid City, South Dakota. They moved to Houston, Texas twice to be near family but the beautiful Black Hills beckoned them home each time.

Gary enjoyed playing basketball with the church team in Rapid City, coached women’s basketball at National College of Business and coached both kids’ soccer teams and son’s baseball teams. He had a passion for teaching young ones in sports and felt strongly that there was a positive way to coach that would leave an everlasting imprint.

Gary loved the outdoors. Regular weekend outings with his family included camping, fishing and hunting in the Black Hills.

He was a lover of music of many styles. The Ventures, the Beach Boys and Elvis could be heard blasting from his stereo any day of the week in his younger years. In his later years he found a love for the Blues.

After recovering from a brain aneurysm in 1987, Gary returned to school to fulfill a Masters degree in Counseling. He used his skills in the substance abuse field for many years before returning to his butcher roots spending some years in Colorado near his son and family. He then took to the road driving long-haul trucks and enjoyed seeing many parts of the USA until he retired in the Denton, TX area near his daughter and family.

Gary was known for his sense of humor, his quick wit, and his kind and compassionate spirit. He always had a smile for you and a twinkle in his bright blue eyes.

He is survived by his daughter Wendy Nielsen Bloomfield and son-in-law Chris Bloomfield of Lake Dallas, Texas; his son Chad Nielsen of Thornton, Colorado; his sister Lynn Nielsen Kelly and brother-in-law Don Kelly of Sugar Land, Texas; his grandchildren Forrest Nielsen, Elaina Bloomfield, Willow Nielsen, Matthew Bloomfield, Colin Bloomfield and three nieces, Sue Kelly Calcagni, Diane Kelly Bone, and Kristen Rock.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Pete and Charline Nielsen, his sister Tana Nielsen, his niece Debbie Rock, his sister Kay Nielsen Rock, and his granddaughter Raen Nielsen.

Condolences

Joe and Marly Mechaley December 02, 2020

friend Spearfish , South Dakota

Our sincere sympathy to you, Lynn, and all of Gary's family. May memories help comfort you at this very difficult and sad time.

Anderson February 03, 2021

Yankton , South Dakota

Let Gary daughter know Wendy is her name that I missed her text and cremation obituary that I just found set last December I believe sad that I missed it but thanks Wednesday so much for letting me know you God bless Dale Anderson