James Arthur Nielsen

March 15, 1928 ~ January 5, 2019 (age 90)



Time on Earth expired for James Arthur Nielsen age 90 , January 5, 2019, at Heritage Place in Kalispell. Jim was born March 15, 1928, in Independence, Iowa, to Clarence and Emma (Klein) Nielsen.


Jim spent his youth boating on the Wapsipinican River with his brothers and later canoeing on the Mississippi and Boundary Waters in Minnesota. After finishing high school in Independence, he completed a B.S. in Dairy Industry in 1950 at Iowa State University, where he was on the varsity swim team. 


Out of College, Jim was hired by Beatrice Foods plant in Denver, Colorado, where he became manager of production efficiency. There he learned to ski, hunt and fish for trout.


In 1955 Jim returned to Iowa to manage and eventually close the butter and egg divisions of Wapsie Valley Creamery in Cedar Rapids.


In 1953 Jim married Patricia Thorpe in Denver.  This marriage produced two children, Debora and Douglas, and ended in divorce in 1963.


After single parenting for five years Jim met Janet Hagerman on a chair lift at Snowmass.  They were married a year later and had a daughter, Darci.


Jim then left the family business to operate a motel in Steamboat Springs, CO, for seven years and then moved to Bradenton, FL, to outfit and run a commercial fishing boat, longlining for swordfish and giant bluefin tuna.


Taking early retirement Jim and Jan began sailing the West coast of Florida, from Apalachicola to the Keys and Dry Tortugas. They also made a four month cruise up the Intra-Coastal Waterway to the Chesapeake, visiting Washington, D.C., Annapolis and many other ports by boat.


Returning from a camping trip to Alaska, Jim and Jan visited friends in Kalispell, discovered Flathead Lake and moved to Bigfork in 1993. In 2005 they moved to Kalispell to be closer to the Summit.


Jim is survived by his wife Janet, daughters Debora Nielsen, Gardnerville, NV, and Darci Nielsen, Kalispell, son Douglas, Steamboat Springs, CO, grandson Kyundai Nielsen, Carson City, NV, brother Wilbur, Independence, IA, Sister Patricia and husband Burnell Haven, Independence, one niece and seven nephews.


Jim was preceded in death by his parents, a brother Frank, and granddaughter Kumia.


No services are planned. Friends are encouraged to visit our website at to leave notes of condolences for the family. Buffalo Hill Funeral Home and Crematory caring for the family


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