He was born June 8, 1942 in Mitchell, South Dakota to Owen and Ruth Nielsen. He graduated from Watertown High School and received a BS in Fisheries Biology from the University of Montana. His early passions were taxidermy, in which he was licensed by the age of 14, and football. He was quite a hometown star as a member of the Watertown High School football team, and went on to play for the University of Montana Grizzlies. Although the Dallas Cowboys scouted him, he dedicated his efforts to a career in wildlife biology and started a family. He spent his entire professional career with the Idaho Fish and Game Department, which allowed him the opportunity to enjoy many Idaho communities, including Arco, North Fork, Palisades and Driggs.
Ken retired from Idaho Fish and Game and redirected his attention to another passion, serving as a mentor, teacher and friend in the Teton Valley Bible Church and Teton Christian School. He was a dedicated and passionate member of the church community and considered them all his family.
Ken is survived by his mother, Ruth of Rapid City, SD, daughter Sheila (Ted) Nielsen-Preiss of Belgrade, MT, grandson, Kyle Preiss of Belgrade, MT, brother Jim (Char) Nielsen of Gillette, WY and his nephews Tom Nielsen (and his four children, Nathan, Joseph, Ella, and Maya) of Gillette, WY and Michael (Jeannine) Nielsen of Switzerland.
The family would like to thank all those who responded to emergencies and were there in Ken's times of need, especially the ambulance crews, the sheriff's department, the hospital and clinic staff, the Meals on Wheels service, and so many neighbors, friends and church members. It is only because of you that Ken was able to live his life how and where he wanted!
Ken has been cremated and a memorial service will be held at the Teton Valley Bible on Thursday, June 23 at 12pm. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be sent to the Tin Cup Event to support Seniors West of the Tetons, your local Meals on Wheels program, or the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.