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Lawson Nielson


1947 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Lawson Nielson Obituary
Nielsen, Lawson
Lawson Zenic Nielsen, was born February 8, 1947 in St. Johns to Lula Irene Waite and Edward Zenic Nielsen. Over the years and in many ways, he developed character traits that were larger than life, which was fitting for a baby boy with the bouncing birth weight of 12 pounds! Growing up, he was a fun loving boy who enjoyed and learned his great sense of humor from his home life. As his father was an eternal enemy of debt, the family life Lawson was raised in was humble, yet sufficient, but had a divine excess of love and loyalty. Some of the choicest stories from Lawson's childhood were of trips to the grocery store, church, work and events around town; all on foot. But, he remembered how cool it was and how life seemed grand when they had saved enough money to buy their first car. He often commented on how his family had learned their appreciation of material possessions while at the same time learning that wealth was never borrowed. He was taught to never buy anything that you didn't pay for outright and that life and families in their best form didn't require worldly possessions. Lawson loved the children he grew up with and maintained lifelong friendships with many. He loved playing football as a tight end, receiver and always had a respect and relationship with Coach Paul Reynolds and had a mutual respect for many of his fellow athletes from surrounding communities. However, be it known, he bled St. Johns red and white and was always an avid fan. Lawson knew and loved his eternal companion Carolyn Cowley at a very young age as they grew up together a year apart in beloved St. Johns. They were married March 23, 1965 in Gallup, New Mexico and sealed their marriage in the Mesa Arizona Temple in 1987. Lawson began his career as a well driller after graduating high school in 1965, working for Cowley Brothers. He was trained as a driller by Master Mason Edward Cowley who was the uncle of Gordon, Graham, Hugh and Calvin. During his early days with the Cowley's he assisted and drilled hundreds of wells for the Navajo nation and Hopi tribe. In 1970 and 1971 he moved to Phoenix, took hiatus from well drilling and attended Lincoln Technical School to study mechanics. While in school he found work at a paving company owned by Roman Candelaria. To his surprise he loved the work, the sense of accomplishment and the feeling of jumping in a pool of water after long hours of working hot asphalt in Maricopa county during the heat of the summer months. He developed a deep sense of respect for Mr. Candelaria and his business partner Bill and was treated so well that he planned on making a career with their company. However, as in many cases with life, family called and despite what he wanted, he did what he felt was most important for others. His father-in-law requested him to return as he needed help with the well drilling business back in Northern Arizona so he returned to St. Johns and resumed drilling for Cowley Brothers. Lawson was well known in the White Mountain communities for his participation in the men's basketball league tournaments. In those days it was almost a semi-pro league. He loved competing against the best and for those who remember, the major teams were formed around the Nicholas brothers in Show Low, the Brown brothers in St. Johns and the Heap brothers from St. Johns. One of those three teams would always be in the championship. On multiple occasions he was named to all tournament teams and as a tournament MVP. In 1976 Lawson founded his own company, Nielsen Well Drilling and for the next 30 years drilled and serviced thousands of water wells for families and ranches throughout Northern Arizona. He was a licensed contractor and licensed well driller with the State of Arizona and maintained both licenses without blemish and in good standing until the day he passed. Lawson was an avid team roper and loved his horses for many years. He was always proud of his tenure and participation as president in the St. Johns Roping Club because of what the group was able to accomplish. Lawson loved to coach basketball; winning several championships as a St. Johns little league coach and pinnacled his coaching career as the SJHS Redskins freshman boys head coach and as an assistant coach for the varsity team for several years. Lawson served in many capacities for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in St. Johns. Whether as a teacher or as a High Councilman, his effectiveness was always centered in his sincerity and humility and by being a man of his word. He was generally very liberal and forgiving of his fellow man. The formality of religion was less important to him than emulating the divine through sincere friendships in his community. Together, Lawson and Carolyn raised their six children in their little hometown. He loved each of his grandchildren and enjoyed teaching them to work hard. In his later years he spent most of his time looking after his wife who was beginning her struggle with Alzheimer's and who had become totally dependent on him the past few years. Lawson was preceded in death by his father, Edward Zenic (E.Z.), older sister, Loretta Jean, older brother, Denny and son, Cameron Dane. He is survived by his wife, Carolyn, mother, Lula, sisters, Connie (Howard) Jackson, Berta Ann (Steve) Rogers, children, Frederick (Sandra), Kirstin (Spence) Udall, Rachel (Robert) Foxcroft, Christoffer (Keirsten), Cassidy (Julie), 21 grandchildren, 7 great grandchildren and one more in route. He will be sorely missed by all but we have grateful hearts for our relationships with him. A Graveside Service will be held Saturday, December 2, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. at the St. Johns Westside Cemetery. Interment will follow the services. To leave an online condolence for Lawson's family, please visit www.burnhammortuary.com Burnham Mortuary, St. Johns, handled arrangements.
Published in The Arizona Republic on Dec. 2, 2017
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