Donald Lester Nielsen was born May 28, 1937, at South Shore Hospital in Chicago, Ill., and last resided in Birmingham, Alabama. Donald, 84, passed away peacefully in his home Saturday, July 31, 2021.
He is survived by his sister, Judy; wife, Connie; sons, Jeff (Kelly), David (Christie), Danny (Donna), Jim (Amy); 16 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Lester and Mabel Nielsen.
Don grew up in Chetek, Wis., and graduated from Chetek High School in 1955. He was on the high school football and ski jumping teams. He thoroughly enjoyed the outdoors and was an avid hunter and fisherman. Don proudly served with the U.S. military in the National Guard Reserves and was called up during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Don was a devoted husband and father.
Connie and Don met in high school and were married Aug. 28, 1960. Life’s journeys took them from Wisconsin through Washington and Illinois before settling in Alabama. Don and Connie had many wonderful years together and made so many precious memories, had tender moments and experienced life to the fullest. They traveled to every state in the USA and many countries abroad. They both exemplified their roles as a Godly husband and wife. They were committed to their God, their marriage, their family and each other. They took great care of each other in times of illness and difficulties. The picture he portrayed as husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather was a beautiful example to all the family.
Don was an engineering sales manager for Arnold Engineering and Precise Engineering. Then, he became vice president and general manager of the Industrial Machinery Division for Beloit and Beloit-Passavant. After that, he became president and co-owner with his long term business partner, Ulrich Passavant, of IMD. His sons, Danny and Jim, purchased the company in 1998, and Don served as global sales manager for Innovative Machine Corporation. His career was focused on custom engineered machines primarily in the web converting industry covering magnetic audio and video film, filter material, medical films, and plastics, as well as energy storage machinery for batteries and other energy storage media. Don was very well respected by all his family, friends, customers, suppliers and employees. He was a great communicator, leader, designer and salesman. The machines were sold globally, and Don was privileged to have a career that allowed him to travel the world. Between business and leisure, Don traveled to approximately 50 countries.
Don gave his life to Jesus Christ in Birmingham in 1984. He was a faithful and devoted Christian. He served as an elder and president of Concordia Lutheran Church. He faithfully gathered and prayed with the elders and Pastor Marlo Lemke every week for years. At Fullness Christian Fellowship, he served as a greeter and an usher in addition to many other acts of service to his church.
Don was a man of integrity. He was a devoted husband. He fully loved his family. He was gracious when we didn’t deserve it. He was stern and corrected us when we needed it (Thank you, Dad!). He had a smirk that won him many friendships. He never met a stranger. He was very kind. He gave of his resources to those in need. He was extremely brave and courageous when he encountered his illnesses. Through his illness, he leaned heavily on his faith to carry him through—another character trait we all admire.
God, thank you for the years. Thank you for the memories. Thank you for the man. Thank you for saving his soul. Thank you for taking him home. We look forward to the day we can see you again!