Obituary for David L. Nielsen
David Nielsen 1955 – 2017
Dave Nielsen was born in Bayshore, NY to Frank and Pearl (Provost) Nielsen. He was the third of four children: younger brother of Suzanne and Frank, older brother to Peggy. He spent his early years in North Babylon, NY, and attended Weeks Road Elementary School before his father loaded up the entire family and relocated to Phoenix, AZ in 1963. Moving to the Southwest was a big adventure for the New York boy. He had visions of cowboys and wide open spaces and had the outfit to match.
Dave was a good student in his early years. He was very active in Cub Scouts and then Boy Scouts where he earned many badges and commendations. He loved science and the stars, enjoyed being in nature. So, it was inspiring that he eventually attended Frank C. Borman Junior High School, named after the famous astronaut. High school was more of a challenge. Phoenix was rapidly growing and Maryvale High School was on split session. This system did not suit Dave well and he eventually spent more time partying than studying. He eventually dropped out but found regular work. He devoted his time to his friends, motorcycles and good times.
In 1978 he had a life-changing event. On a lazy Sunday afternoon, out for a ride with a pretty girl on the back of his motorcycle, a truck rear-ended him and sent both him and his passenger flying. Dave spent a month in the hospital with several broken bones and bruises. The doctors operated on his broken leg, inserted rods and pins to which he quickly became allergic. There were more surgeries to remove the hardware, leaving a bad scar and bow in his leg that he was left to explain to everyone for the rest of his life. He received a nice sum of insurance money; some of which he used to celebrate his survival. The rest he used to enroll in computer tech school. Hobbled on crutches for nineteen months, he got himself to school for the completion of the program. He received his GED there and then his diploma.
Armed with a new skill and confidence, he landed several good computer programming jobs, including one working for the state of Arizona. Interested in expanding his horizons, he eventually applied for, a got a job in Portland, OR with Freightliner. He spent several years at First Interstate Bank, making lifelong friendships there. It was through a connection at First Interstate that Dave landed a job at Intel.
Dave spent more than 22 years at Intel, working on many important projects. He was dedicated to quality work and served as example to others to do good work. He went on to take college courses and taught classes himself. He was a living encyclopedia of the history and evolution of processes, which earned him the nickname “Dr. Dave.” Towards the end of his tenure there, he moved from managing projects to managing teams. At first he was hesitant to take on such a role but even he had to admit that he was a “natural”. He managed people’s time and talents, encouraged them to grow, both professionally and personally. He retired in 2013 due to health issues.
Dave had many loves: motorcycles, muscle cars and music. He loved nature and animals. He felt a real connection with the Wolf as his spirit animal and was an avid supporter of Wolf Haven International. He had a strong connection with a wolf there named Siri, who he honored with a beautiful tattoo. He was a Cat Daddy and loved the furry ones deeply. When Sedona, Emma, Charlie and Destiny crossed the Rainbow Bridge Dave felt the losses deeply. He shared his love with Kitty for 16 years and welcomed Cooper and Grace into his heart.
Dave was a very spiritual person with an interest in a variety of teachings. Raised Methodist, he explored many different traditions. He has studied Buddhism extensively and had the opportunity to spend one birthday at a day-long event with the Dalai Lama. When visiting Kauai, Dave chose to spend a day at a Hindu monastery. He was interested in the teachings of Native Americans, the Hawaiian people and the Vikings. Most recently, he had been enjoying the pipe organ music and community of kindness at Hillsdale Community Church, United Church of Christ.
Dave was very generous in spirit and resources. He never hesitated to help a friend. His gifts were thoughtful and given with love. He sponsored three children through Child Fund International for many years. For his last Christmas, all he wanted was a gift to be given in his name to the organization No Kid Hungry. He donated to many good causes and was always willing to help those less fortunate. A friend once said of Dave, “He is the most generous guy I know.” Many who have experienced his kindness would agree.
Dave was married to his wife Pat for over fifteen years, marrying in 2001. They met online at the end of January and were married just four months later. They had a lovely marriage and a good partnership. They weathered many storms together with Dave’s health challenges but were determined to face them with humor and optimism. Dave and Pat loved to travel and were excellent travel partners. They honeymooned amidst the California Redwoods where Dave had a significant connection with “the Giants” as he called them. They made many trips to Maui and had many wonderful experiences there, meeting people and enjoying the Spirit of the island. They had many romantic trips to the Oregon Coast, spending long weekends in Gleneden. They had tea on the porch at the Empress Hotel and walked for blocks on the Strip in Vegas. Dave treated Pat to a bucket list trip to see her beloved 49ers play at Candlestick and turned it into a wonderful weekend. In 2012 Dave and Pat made a memorable trip to Europe. Dave was surprised to find out how much he liked Paris and hoped to return one day. They visited close friends in Luxembourg, celebrating their anniversary there. Dave’s favorite stop on the trip was Munich, enjoying the beer, food and beautiful women. He was interested in history and culture in all of his travels and was grateful for the many experiences he had.
Dave was a Good Man. Loved by many, he will be missed by more. He touched many people’s lives both near and far. A modest man, he left this earth just beginning to really understand how much people appreciated him. Dave was a strong-willed survivor. The heart attack he had in 1996 did irreparable damage but he fought the good fight for many years. At the time of his death at Legacy Hopewell House Hospice he was at Peace and met his destiny head-on. Godspeed, Dave Nielsen.
Dave is survived by his wife, Pat Steele Nielsen, his brother Frank Nielsen and wife Margie, his sister Peggy Lindenthaler and husband Bill, and three adult children from a previous marriage. His mother and father and sister Sue predeceased him.
Dave’s ashes will be scattered over places that were dear to him later this year. A service has not been scheduled at this time. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Dave’s name to a local animal shelter, a food bank or similar program, or any organization that does good work.