Richard Lloyd “Rick” Neilson, 63, of Alma, passed away on Thursday, March 7, at CHI Health - Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney, surrounded by his loving family.
Rick was born Oct. 27,
1955, in Helena, Montana, the eldest of four boys, to Jerry Lloyd and Shirley Ann (Cartwright) Neilson. He graduated from high school in Altus, Oklahoma, in 1974. He then pursued higher education at Oklahoma State University, where he received his undergraduate degree in wildlife research and a doctorate in veterinary medicine. He began practicing veterinary medicine in Miller, South Dakota and later in Holdrege and Gothenburg, Nebraska.
On June 21, 1991, Rick was united in marriage to Deborah Ann Gaffney. The couple made their home near Alma, where Rick built Republican Valley Animal Center and worked as a veterinarian. After leaving veterinary practice, he worked as a financial advisor, most recently for Wells Fargo Advisors in Kearney, where he served as First Vice President – Investments.
Rick was a passionate outdoorsman. He enjoyed hunting, trail running, competing in Spartan Obstacle Course Races, barbecuing, camping, and fishing at Harlan County Reservoir. Rick’s favorite travel destinations included his family’s cabin on Flathead Lake and Glacier National Park in Montana. His love of aviation led him to obtain a private pilot’s license with a float plane rating, serve on the Alma Airport Advisory Board, and to join the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. He was also a member of the Kearney Elks Lodge No. 984 and was active in the leadership of Ducks Unlimited in Miller, South Dakota, for many years. Rick was a member of the International Essential Tremor Foundation, an organization which is working to address a condition which inhibited Rick’s ability to participate in many of his favorite activities.
Family was important to Rick. He cherished every moment spent with his children and grandchildren. Rick never knew a stranger and he will be remembered for his joyful laugh, generosity, and his kindness and care for others before himself.
Rick was preceded in death by; his mother, Shirley Neilson; father-in-law, Leland Gaffney; grandparents: Ace (Carrie) Neilson; Charlie (Rhea) Cartwright; Orville (Leoma) Gaffney; and Theodore (Evelyn) Hauserman.
Rick is survived by his wife, Deb Neilson of Alma; daughter, Erin (Phil) Williams of Omaha; son, Jeremy (Brittany) Neilson of Denver, Colorado; three grandchildren, Solomon and Wesley Williams and Noah Neilson; father, Jerry (Susan) Neilson of Bigfork, Montana; three brothers: Jeff (Cortney) Neilson of Sherman, Texas; Dane (Becky) Neilson of San Antonio, Texas; and Van Neilson of Paris, Texas; mother-in-law, Linda Gaffney of Holdrege; brother-in-law, Kevin (Jane) Gaffney of Carson City, Nevada; sister-in-law, Pam (Bob) Jons of Holdrege; former wife, Vicki Rivard of Papillion, Nebraska; and many beloved aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
A time of gathering to celebrate Rick’s life will be held on Saturday, March 16, from 2-5 p.m. at the Alma Municipal Golf Course Clubhouse in Alma, Nebraska. The family requests casual attire. There will be no visitation. A private family inurnment will be held at a later date.
A memorial has been established in Rick’s honor, and suggested to the International Essential Tremor Foundation. www.essentialtremor.org/donate/
Expressions of caring and kindness can be sent to the family at www.nelsonbauerfh.com
The Bauer-Torrey & Mach Funeral Home in Alma is in charge of arrangements.