Richard A. Nielsen, 85, passed away peacefully at his country home near Harvard, IL March 17, 2022, surrounded by his loving family. He was born to Arthur and Mildred Nielsen on October 20, 1936, in Chicago. Rich grew up spending many summers with his grandmother exploring the woods and lakes near Big Fork, MN. He proudly and honorably served in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he was known for creating beautiful, hand-drawn, custom decorations for retiring officers. After he was discharged, he met his wife, Joanne (Drowinski) Nielsen on a blind date and later told his family that it was love at first sight. They were married for 60 amazing years. Rich was the ultimate family man; loving father of 2 daughters: Wendy Nielsen and Tracy (Joseph) Schatteman, was the grandfather of 5: Amanda Nielsen, Kelsey (Zach) Reed, Michelle (Ryan) Del Rosario, Teagan (fiancée Max Jack) Kaden and Samuel Richard Schatteman and great grandfather to 2: Elijah and Adalynne Reed. He is also survived by his siblings Alice “Mitzi” (John) Jepsen and Arthur Nielsen and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews.
Rich worked for TWA airlines at O’Hare Airport until his retirement. While there he used his artistic talents and his great sense of humor to lighten the days. Rich always appreciated the quiet country life in rural Harvard, IL. He loved gardening, fishing, collecting antique fishing lures, and tending to the ever-growing menagerie of wild birds and animals he fed in his backyard. However, one of the greatest joys in his life was lovingly caring for his granddaughter with special needs, Amanda, every day since her infancy. From her young days, he found delight in making her smile; from building sleds, to taking her to camps, to bowling and art classes, Rich loved caring for and being Amanda’s gramps. His final title in life was that of “Grampa the Grape” as proclaimed by his great-grandchildren, and best buddies, Eli and Addie Jo.
In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be offered to Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association (NISRA). In keeping with Rich’s history of pulling pranks on his friends and family, visitation will be on Friday, April 1st from 4-7 pm at Saunders Funeral Home, 1745 S. Eastwood Dr., Woodstock, IL 60098. The funeral will be held there on Saturday, April 2nd at 11 am. Burial will be at Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Brink St., Harvard.
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