Donald Ray Nielsen passed away on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017, surrounded by his loving family.
He was born Nov. 24, 1929 in Salina, Utah to E. LaMar Nielsen and Clara Jorgensen Nielsen. He married Dixie Lee Larsen on Oct. 14, 1955 in the Manti LDS Temple. Don and Dixie have six children.
Don is survived by his loving wife Dixie; daughters, Vickie (Steve) Butterfield, Lelani Nielsen, Lorna (Vance) Larsen and son, Rex (Debbie) Nielsen, 15 grandchildren 22 great-grandchildren, brothers Gerald Nielsen and LaRell Nielsen. Don was preceded in death by his parents, brother Clee, and two children, Teri Moana and David.
His was a life of adventure and service, and he found great joy in the outdoors. Don served a proselyting mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Samoan Mission. He then served in the army in Korea. Upon his return to Utah, he attended Snow College, where he met his beloved wife Dixie.
With his new partner in adventure, he returned to the Pacific Islands in 1957. They served a Labor (Building) Mission in American Samoa, Aitutaki Cook Islands, and Hawaii. In 1964 Don was hired by the Government of American Samoa to supervise many projects, including the construction of schools. During that time, Don also served as a Branch President and then Bishop of the Pago Pago Ward. He and his family loved their years in the South Pacific.
Returning to Utah in 1970, Don taught at Utah Technical College, then became Director of The Utah Carpenters Apprenticeship Program. In 1986 Don and Dixie moved to Ephraim Utah, where they started and expanded Sanpete Community Training, a private non-profit organization providing services to people with disabilities. It grew to be one of the best programs in the State. Don and Dixie loved the work and the people.
Don loved the outdoors; from scuba diving in the islands, to horse riding in the mountains of Utah, nature was his element. After retirement, he spent most of his summers in the mountains, with his horses, his dog Rusty, and his family.
Don loved his family and was devoted to them. He showed each person how special they are, and was always there for them. Thank you, dad for your example of unconditional love, strength, and endurance.
Dad and our family would like to thank all those, who through their love and service, helped us following the stroke he suffered four years ago.
Funeral services will be held on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017 at noon in the Ephraim 2nd Ward Chapel, 450 North 200 West, Ephraim. A visitation will be held prior to service from 10:30-11:30 am.
Interment will follow at the Ephraim Park Cemetery with Military Honors. Funeral Directors: Magleby Mortuary, Richfield, Salina and Manti. Online guestbook at www.maglebymortuary.com.