Richard D. “Richie” Nielsen, 94, of St. Paul, died on Saturday, January 16, 2021 at the Howard County Medical Center in St. Paul.
A Private Family Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. To honor Richard’s wishes, his body was donated to science at the Nebraska Anatomical Board. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to LaVonne Nieslen at Matelyn Retirement Community, (602 “O” Street, St. Paul, Nebraska 68873) to be distributed to several local organizations. Jacobsen-Greenway-Dietz Funeral Home in St. Paul is assisting the family.
Richard was born on February 17, 1926 in Cushing, Nebraska to Jack and Olga (Johnson) Nielsen. The family moved to St. Paul when he was 5 years old. He attended St. Paul grade school through 8th grade. He was 17 when he enlisted in the United States Navy in March of 1943. He graduated H.S with the class of 1945 while at sea.
Rich took his basic training at Farragut, Idaho and was assigned to the destroyer U.S.S. Satterlee in Bremerton, Washington where he was 1st loader on a 5” gun. He served at Omaha Beach and Normandy Invasion, and decommissioned the U.S.S. Satterlee in Charleston, South Carolina. Richard was honorably discharged in April of 1946.
Rich then elected to begin classes under the G.I. Bill at Nebraska State College. He received his BA degree in 1950 and earned a Masters’ degree in 1971 from the University of Nebraska by taking summer classes.
He married LaVonne Jacobs in March of 1947. He worked at various jobs between sessions at Nebraska Central. After graduating, he worked for the Nebraska Department of Roads, (then Clayton Peterson Oil Co.) until he was asked to serve as Howard County Superintendent of Schools. He held this position for 19 years. The last 4 years, he also served as Valley County Superintendent of Schools. He also was a substitute rural mail carrier during his time as Superintendent. He resigned these positions to become a fulltime mail carrier. When he turned 65, he retired to play some golf. He and LaVonne moved to Matelyn Retirement Community in 2013.
Rich was a lifelong sports enthusiast. He liked to hunt, was an above average athlete in football, basketball, baseball, softball, and golf. He refereed football and basketball, and was a Nebraska football fan. He was the last surviving charter member and served as President and on the board of the St. Paul Country Club. He also served as President and on the Housing Authority board for over 20 years. He served on the board of the Nebraska Education Association and was President of the Nebraska County Superintendent’s Association. Rich was a member of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church and was a past commander of the American Legion Post 119. He was also a 24-gallon blood donor.
Those left to cherish his memory include his wife, La Vonne; daughters and sons-in-law, Dayla and Jerome Steiner of Omaha, Debra and David Scheer of Lincoln; Lori Nielsen of St. Paul; 11 grandchildren; 24 great-grandchildren; 1 step-great-granddaughter; and 2 step-great-great-granddaughters.
Richard was preceded in death by his daughter, Linda Lassen; parents, Jack and Olga Nielsen; brothers, Gordon Nielsen and Walter Nielsen; and infant brother, Jack Nielsen; sisters, Burdette Davis and Nadine Prince; great-grandson, Dawsyn Rother; father-in-law and mother-in-law, Harry and Frieda Jacobs.
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