Erick Dan Hanson Nygaard (1922 - 2017)

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Erick Dan Hanson Nygaard, 95, passed away on December 11, 2017, at Peabody Manor, Appleton, WI. Dan was born on November 16, 1922, on the family farm near Brookhaven, Mississippi, the youngest of eight children born to Uffe and Helga (Jacobsen) Nygaard. Danish was his first language, and he was proud of that unique heritage, but he was also a typical country boy. Telling tales of his boyhood, fishing on Bear Creek or hunting in the woods with his brothers, brought that world to life for his listeners.
His education at Hueck's Retreat, though a humble country school, so ably prepared Dan that he passed the qualifying test in 1942 and became a Navy pilot. He flew off of aircraft carriers on the Pacific, earning the Navy air medal, a gold star, and the rank of Lieutenant. On one of his leaves, he met his beautiful darlin', Grete Bertelsen, at a Danish dance in Chicago. "The handsomest man I ever saw," Grete says. Letters flew between them until their marriage in Brookhaven on May 29, 1945. Not long after, the war was over. Dan remained in the Navy Reserve until 1955. He also went into the printing business with his father-in-law, Hjalmar Bertelsen, establishing Elmwood Park Press in Elmwood Park, IL. Dan was very proud of his salesmanship and success in business. "Always say, 'Can do.' Then figure out how!"
Dan and Grete settled in Des Plaines, IL, where they raised their family. Active in the Danish-American community in Chicago, he and Grete were gracious hosts. Dan loved to garden, and wherever he lived, his flower gardens were spectacularly beautiful. He also became an avid golfer, and was able to continue playing into his 90s. They made frequent trips to Denmark to see relatives and brush up on their Danish, and also loved to go on cruises. In 2000, Dan and Grete retired to a golfing community in Homosassa, FL, where they enjoyed the warm weather, and new and old friends, until 2014, when he and Grete moved to the Heritage in Appleton, WI, closer to their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Dan is survived by his loving wife, Grete, and five children: Erik (Martha) Nygaard of Hickory, NC; Glenn Nygaard of McHenry, IL; Ellen (Jerry) Thain of Stoughton, WI; Gail (Gary) Miller of Kaukauna, WI; and Julie Nygaard (Joe LeKostaj) of Chicago, IL. He will also be deeply missed by his twelve grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his parents; his brothers, Harold, Hans, Peder, Aage, and Olav; and his sisters, Agnes and Tara. Welcome home, lille Dan!
A memorial service for Dan will be held at Covenant Christian Reformed Church, 1601 Covenant Lane, Appleton, WI, on December 22, at 10 am. Interment will follow at Riverside Cemetery in Appleton.
Heartfelt thanks to the staff at the Heritage and Cherry Meadows who cared so lovingly for Dad for the last four years and in the final weeks of his life.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Dan's name to the Danish Home, 5656 N. Newcastle Ave, Chicago, IL 60631.
"And sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, how great Thou art!"
Published in Citrus County Chronicle on Dec. 17, 2017