Neils Ray Poulsen
Neils Ray Poulsen passed away peacefully into the arms of his Lord, surrounded by his family, at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center on July 14th at the age of eighty-six years in the year 2021. Neils (Neels) was born in Oneida, New York on July 9th, 1935. He was predeceased by his father, Olaf Ray Poulsen and his mother Mildred Claire (Lawrence) Poulsen and is survived by his loving wife of sixty-six years, Catherine Dorothy (Carney) Poulsen. Neils is lovingly remembered by his children Mary Catherine (Poulsen) and Chris Duval, Neils R. Poulsen, Jr. and Tina Loggins Poulsen, Cheryl-Ann (Poulsen) Hamrick, Dale Hamrick, Juliana Claire Poulsen and Dr. Michael Mosley, Robert Michael Poulsen, Elizabeth Leslie Poulsen, Elizabeth Poulsen Parker and Joseph Parker; twenty-one grandchildren, twenty-eight great grandchildren, his sisters and brothers Christine (Poulsen) Rizzo and Angie Lazio, Marianne (Carney) and Peter Dunn, Dr. Raymond and Jeannie Carney, and Margaret (Carney) and John Wille, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Neils earned his Eagle Scout and then served as Waterfront Director of a Boy Scout Camp before graduating from high school. He fell in love with his future bride while performing with her in their Oneida High School play "Our Town" by Thornton Wilder in their senior year. He obtained his degree in Electrical Engineering from Syracuse University before joining the U.S. Air Force. Throughout his military career, he flew the C-118, and during his five years of Air Rescue, he flew the C-54 and HU-16, before piloting C-130 gunships. He was proud to have piloted the First Lady which is on display at the Air Force Armament Museum. Upon leaving the Air Force as a Captain, he began his civilian career with the USAF Civil Service, and joined the U.S. Air Force Reserves. Neils took his family to Gainesville to earn his Master's Degree in Industrial Engineering from the University of Florida. He found that the orange and blue mascot colors of his high school and undergrad university prepared him for a lifetime as a Gator fan. In his Civil Service career, he rose from a GS-9 to a GM-14 Supervisory Engineer. In addition, upon earning the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Reserves and having flown 6000 hours, he was made Commander of the 711/919th at Duke Field. After being promoted to Colonel, he was assigned to Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force Atlantic (JUWTFA) before retiring to be Papaw of his extensive family.
Neils always had a song in his heart and a tune for every occasion. From early childhood, he sang in the church choir and loved to harmonize with his dad and uncle at family gatherings. This was a tradition he continued with his kids and grandkids. Through his love of God and music, he founded the Folk Group/Contemporary Choir at Saint Mary Catholic Church, a ministry that he directed and was part of for over 50 years. In this ministry, he touched many lives and helped create a singing community. He also took great joy in performing and traveling with the Fort Walton Beach Community Chorus for many years. Singing was an integral thread that wove through every aspect of his life
A Funeral Mass, officiated by Father John Licari, will be on Saturday, July 24, 2021, at 11:30. Mass will be preceded by praying of the Rosary at 10:30 and visitation at 10:45. All will be held at St. Mary Catholic Church, 110 Saint Mary Ave SW, Fort Walton Beach.
A Celebration of Life reception will follow at 1PM at First Baptist Church, 21 First Street SE. Masks are respectfully requested due to family members with at-risk health conditions.
The Internment later at Fort Barrancas National Cemetery will be for family only. Condolences for the family may be offered at www.emeraldcoastfuneralhome.com
. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Saint Mary Catholic School, Rocky Bayou Christian School or Saint Mary Outreach Ministry. Special thanks to the staff of Fort Walton Beach Medical Center, especially Maryann, Liz and Nina.
Published by Northwest Florida Daily News from Jul. 16 to Jul. 23, 2021.