William B. Nielsen, Jr. went to his heavenly reward on March 29, 2013, at the age of 90.
He'd been in the loving hands of Patrick and Susan Dickens' Covenant Care nursing facility near Greenbrier for nearly two years. Prior to that, he'd been a resident at Trillium Park Retirement Home.
William was born on Nov. 11, 1922, in Brooklyn, N.Y. His father was a Danish immigrant and his mother, Lillian Martin, was of German extraction. His birthday fell on what was then known as Armistice Day following the end of World War I. It has since become Veterans Day.
After attending the Pratt Institute in New York, William joined the U.S. Navy. He was assigned to the destroyer USS Reuben James (DD-245). He had to resign from the Navy a few months later because of color blindness and subsequently enlisted in the U.S. Army. His former ship was the first Navy vessel to be sunk by hostile action during World War II. It was torpedoed on Oct. 31, 1941, by a German submarine in the North Atlantic while escorting a supply convoy to Great Britain.
The Army sent William to the Caribbean island of Bermuda and later to Ft. Meyer, Va., where he received his honorable discharge in 1945. He began his career as a broadcast engineer and executive shortly thereafter in San Francisco, Calif. His duties later took him to North Africa, France, Guam, Australia and other foreign destinations. One of these was Munich, West Germany, during the Cold War. He worked for Radio Liberty which beamed information directly into the Soviet Union. This led the KGB to put him on its death list.
When William retired from broadcasting, he worked in Oregon and Texas as a financial planner and tax consultant. He also engaged in his life-long hobby of amateur radio, which he began in his youth after building his own crystal set.
William is survived by a sister, Shirley Majors, of Fresno, Calif. His eldest son, Raymond (Donna) lives in Conway. Another son, Michael, is in San Francisco. A third son, Robert, died in 1988. Grandson, Christopher Nielsen, also lives in Conway. William had a number of nephews and nieces who live in California and Texas. His third wife of 45 years, Margaret Mare Nielsen, preceded him in death in 2007.
A private service will be held for him at a later date.
He will be interred in the St. Raphael columbarium at the St. Joseph Church cemetery in Conway with the ashes of his late wife.
Published in The Log Cabin Democrat from Apr. 1 to Apr. 8, 2013