Nielsson, Gunnar P.
November 09, 1933 - July 10, 2011
Gunnar P. Nielsson, beloved father, grandfather, brother, and dedicated professor, passed away Sunday, July 10th, 2011 at the age of 77.
Gunnar was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1933 to Oluf Nielsson and Ellen Pedersen, the oldest of six children. He emigrated to the United States in September 1956, speaking 3 words of English, and soon began his studies at Los Angeles City College. After completing an Associates degree, Gunnar studied political science at UCLA
and graduated with honors in 1961. That fall he became a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and, in 1963, he earned a Masters Degree in International Relations from UC Berkeley with a thesis entitled "Commonwealth Consultation and Cooperation: A Case Study of the 1956 Suez Crisis." Gunnar went on to earn a PhD from UCLA in 1966, writing a dissertation entitled "Denmark and European Integration: A Small Country at the Crossroads."
With the completion of his PhD, Gunnar began his teaching career at UC Riverside where he taught several classes in International Relations and Comparative Politics. He also began his role as a faculty advisor for the Model United Nations Organization; a job he would continue at USC until his retirement and one of the most rewarding teaching positions he would hold. In 1968 he became Professor of International Relations at the University of Southern California where he would teach for 37 years. During the 1970s he served as director of the USC Graduate Program Abroad in London and West Germany, focusing on the topics of European integration politics and the European Union. Over the years he enjoyed participating in professional conferences and seminars dealing with the European Union. Gunnar loved to talk politics, travel, teach, and watch Premier League soccer games. He also took great pleasure in becoming part of the Unitarian community in Long Beach. In addition, he was an avid ballroom dancer, held season tickets to the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, and never missed an edition of the New York Times.
Gunnar is survived by his 3 daughters Lisa, Christina, and Caitlin and his 5 grandchildren Adrianne, Zachary, Sophia, Raphael, and Isaiah. He is also survived by his wonderful Danish family including his 2 brothers Jorgen (with sister-in-law Bitten) and Nils, and his sister Lissi (with brother-in-law Bob), as well as many, many fantastic nieces, nephews, cousins, extended family and friends. He will be missed by all for his humor, intellect, and loving spirit.
"Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death." ??Albert Einstein
A memorial service to celebrate the life of Gunnar Nielsson will be held on Sunday, July 24th, 2011 at 5pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Long Beach, 5450 E. Atherton St., Long Beach, CA 90815. For more information please call (949) 233-1790.