Listen to this post
: Grant Ericksen Nielsen was born in Mount Pleasant, Utah, on July 29, 1923, the fourth of five children of Soren M. Nielsen and Florence Ericksen Nielsen. “The favorite,” as his siblings called him, he was a husband, father, rancher and stockman. Rarely was a photo taken of Grant that he would be without a horse or a dog. His love for livestock stemmed at a young age as stories are told of his falling ill while on vacation because he was homesick for his mustang pony, Peanuts.
Grant lived in Mount Pleasant and spent his summers herding sheep on the mountain — a perfect job for him because he could spend hours on his horse. Once time he rode for 36 hours. He came off the mountain to pick up his girlfriend and join his friends for a ride back up the mountain. Then he rode back down the mountain in order to return his girlfriend and head back on the mountain to tend to the sheep again. That was his idea of a perfect time.
He married Verna Aiken on Dec. 23, 1942. Larry, Wayne, DeLayne, Craig, Ruth and Scott were all born of this union. Early in their marriage, Grant spent some time in the Army stationed in Montana. He then returned to Mount Pleasant and continued to work on the Nielsen family sheep ranch until the late 40s when the family sold the sheep and replaced them with cattle. In 1950, the Nielsen family moved to Meeker, Colo. They bought the TI ranch on the Mesa and the J Quarter Circle Ranch up the White River Valley near Marvine and continued the cattle business. This same year he became branch president of the LDS church. Grant and the family sustained this successful cattle business running the Hereford cattle between his mesa property in the winter and in the summer on the upriver ranch.
His presence in the LDS Church continued as he was called to be the Second Counselor in the Meeker Branch Presidency, First Counselor in 1957 and Branch President for the second time in 1959. Grant was ordained a High Priest on April 14, 1963 and became the first Bishop of the Meeker Ward. Along with his full time ranch and involvement in his church he was assigned to be the Agriculture Representative on the Craig Stake Welfare Committee, acted as director of the Soil Conservation Organization, and was secretary of the Irrigation Company.
Grant then married Pia Bjerregaard on March 7, 1967, in Denmark. The couple raised Ann Marie, Alan and Kent on the Mesa Ranch. The family enjoyed ranch life. Grant also had a love of hunting and fishing and passed this on to all his children and grandchildren. Grant was an excellent shot and taught all his kids how to safely shoot firearms and enjoy the sport.
In the mid-80s Grant, Gus Halandras and Marv Brown sat around a table throwing around some ideas leading to which is now the world famous Meeker Classic Championship Sheepdog Trials. He spent many years on the board of directors, countless hours building fence, sorting and setting sheep and soon became an icon that the handlers expected to see. Once again Grant returned to those enjoyable hours spent in the saddle on his horse with a Border Collie at his side until his health prevented him from doing what he loved.
On Sept. 29, 1990, Grant married Betty A. Goodwin. Both of them contributed many hours to the Meeker Classic. During this time Grant also worked on the Grady Ranch and Marv and Lou Brown Ranch in Montana. Grant and Betty did a lot of traveling together and enjoyed seeing the sights of the West as well as visiting friends and family on their travels. They spent several winters residing in Boulder City, Nevada.
Grant died March 9, 2013, at the Colorado State Veteran’s Home in Rifle, Colo., at the age of 89. He is survived by his wife, Betty Nielsen, his children Larry Nielsen, Wayne (Kathy) Nielsen, DeLayne Nielsen, Craig (Trudy) Nielsen, Ruth (Dennis) Koenig, Scott (Nettie) Nielsen, Ann Marie Scritchfield, Alan (Becca) Nielsen and Kent (Marci) Nielsen; 36 grandchildren; 52 great grandchildren; and one great, great grandson. He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Don and Howard Nielsen, sisters Florence Petersen and Marj Beck, daughter-in-law Judy Nielsen, son-in-law Gene Scritchfield, grandson-in-law Joe Malouff and granddaughter Kandi Koenig.
Funeral services will be Friday, March 14, 2013, at 10 a.m. at the Meeker LDS Church.