Rodney Lee Nielsen of Chandler, Arizona passed away on Wednesday, July 13, 2022 after a long struggle with Parkinson’s Disease and Lewy Body Dementia.
He is survived by his wife of almost 66 years, Darlene; children Reg (Cheri) Nielsen and Shelly (Scott) Barsuhn; grandchildren Sophia Barsuhn, Sam Barsuhn, Caleb Nielsen, and Lauren (Jay) Graves; great grandsons Jackson and George Graves; and brothers Wes and Randy. He was preceded in death by his parents, Herman and Alma Nielsen.
Rod was born August 10, 1934 in Ideal, South Dakota. His parents moved to Windom, Minnesota the following year and he spent his childhood and youth helping on the family farm. He participated in 4H, church activities, and high school basketball and baseball. He graduated from Windom High School in 1952.
Rod attended John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas where he met his bride-to-be, Darlene Jaeger. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Radio Engineering, graduating in 1956. He and Darlene married on July 25 of that year and settled in St. Paul, Minnesota where he had accepted an engineering position at Univac. Two years later, he and Darlene became the proud (and surprised) parents of twins, Rochelle and Reg.
Rod worked for Univac as an engineer and quality control manager, first in St. Paul and then Salt Lake City, Utah. Along the way, he continued his education with technical courses at the University of Minnesota. He attained an MBA in Engineering Administration at the University of Utah (1977).
He accepted a quality engineering position with Intel in Portland, Oregon (1978), later transferring to Chandler, Arizona (1985). Serving Intel clients, he traveled to Singapore, The Philippines, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and many other locations.
Rod enjoyed fishing, canoeing, and skiing. Over many years of his life, he was a Ham radio enthusiast who built sky-high antennas in the backyards of his homes. He oversaw the design and building of family homes in Minnesota, Utah, and Arizona. His woodworking shop was always filled with new projects. He researched and taught himself to restore freestanding antique radios, refurbishing two, and demonstrated fine workmanship on the reconstruction of antique furniture, including a vintage reed organ. He found joy in taking on challenges and learning new skills. He was a carpenter, electrician, mechanic, landscaper, and handyman who tackled every task with enjoyment and precision. After his retirement, he and Darlene enjoyed traveling the world. He also invited his children, their spouses, and his grandchildren on two cruises–one to Alaska and another to the Caribbean.
Rod’s faith shaped his life. Around age eight, he made a decision to accept and follow Jesus while attending a visiting evangelist’s meeting, praying backstage with his mother. He once wrote, “I will cherish those moments forever.” Over the decades, he served in many churches and always had a special interest in missions. He served as a member of The Gideons International and in later years keenly followed the ministry of the Ukrainian nonprofit organization, Music Mission Kiev.
Rod was a man of patience, gentleness, and kindness. Even after his diagnosis with Parkinson’s Disease and Lewy Body Dementia, which caused him great suffering, he lived without complaint.
He will be remembered for his curiosity and “can do” attitude, his devotion to his family, and his faith. He was a loving husband, dad, grandpa, and great grandpa—a man of integrity.