Embraced the outdoors and turned chores into recreation

Published January 10, 2019

LYNNFIELD — Kenneth Richard Nielsen, 87, formerly of Lynnfield and recently of Brightview Senior Living in Wakefield, passed away peacefully 22 minutes before midnight on January 3, 2019 just a week short of his 88th birthday.

Born in Kenosha, Wisconsin in 1931, Kenneth was the son of Julius and Hazel Nielsen. Proud of his Danish ancestry, he often retold how his grandfather immigrated by ship from Denmark in the late 19th century. Kenneth came to New England in 1950 at the outbreak of the Korean War to serve as a Hospital Corpsman with the United States Navy. There he met Joan Inez Harrison, with whom he fell in love and married in 1951.

He began working at Boston’s Anderson Power Products in 1951 and enrolled at Boston University where he took evening classes, earning a degree in 1957. He stayed with Anderson’s for the full extent of his professional career which spanned more than four decades. This work would provide him the opportunity to return to live in the Midwest for a few years in the late 1950s and early ‘60s, and to travel throughout the United States and then to Europe, Asia, and Africa as high voltage technology evolved and the company expanded globally.

Kenneth and Joan and their young family returned to Massachusetts and settled in Lynnfield in 1963, living first on Landers Road and then moving in 1974 to Apple Hill Lane. Their four children, Kenny, Heidi, Peter and Brent, all grew up in Lynnfield and graduated from Lynnfield High School. In addition to being a steady and dependable provider for his children, Kenneth spent much of his life as a loving caregiver to Joan, who fell ill with Guillain-Barre syndrome in 1972 and faced ongoing health challenges. She served as an independent living activist until she passed in 2010.

His family will remember him doing every job he possibly could without ever hiring help, from changing the brakes and mufflers on the cars and doing electrical, plumbing, and carpentry work, to managing his finances, and doing his own taxes. He was a thrifty penny pincher to the end. They will also remember him for the squash and apple pies he ritualistically baked for the holidays (with exceedingly generous amounts of cinnamon), and for being eager to go strawberry and raspberry picking every summer.

Ken embraced the outdoors in his free time and seemed to make gardening, shoveling snow, and raking leaves into pure recreation. He regularly took his young family camping in the lakes region of New Hampshire and instilled in them a passion for returning to the woods and the thrill of an evening campfire.

Over the years, he became increasingly committed to the practice of walking and guided his children and grandchildren through the neighborhoods within Chestnut, Lowell, and Main Streets in Lynnfield and the trails of the wooded wetlands of the Beaver Brook Recreation Area.

He kept himself involved in the Lynnfield-Wakefield United Methodist Church, the Masonic Lodge, and the North Shore Community Theater. He was always up for a game of bocce out on the lawn or cribbage at the kitchen table and was up early nearly every Saturday morning for coffee at the kitchen table with his lifelong friend Bud Graves. Winding his cuckoo clock and serving waffles with ice cream in the morning to his grandchildren became dependable entertainment on family visits to Apple Hill.

Kenneth is survived by his children and their spouses, Kenneth R. Nielsen II and Alice Nielsen of Reading; Heidi and David McGlauflin of North Reading, Peter and Alison Nielsen of Peaks Island, Maine; and Brent and Arose Nielsen of Belchertown. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Jennifer, Nicholas, Izabel, Noah, Sienna, and Anders Nielsen, and Johanna, Robert, and Brielly McGlauflin. His great-grandchildren thus far include Elle, Savannah, Ayla, Julia, Levi, and Sean.

His three generations of offspring plan a private celebration of his life. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Joan Nielsen Fund of the Disability Resource Center may be made in support of the family’s commitment to the fund’s mission of inclusion and independence for everyone.

Arrangements are in the care of the Croswell Funeral Home, 19 Bow Street, North Reading. www.croswellfuneralhome.com