James Allen “Jim” Nielsen, 76, of Plentywood died March 16, 2023, at Sheridan Memorial Hospital.
He was born Nov. 6, 1946, in Plentywood, the seventh of eight children born to N.P. and Vita Nielsen. He attended school in Westby through 9th grade, then the family moved to Plentywood, where he graduated from high school in 1964. He furthered his education at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., obtaining a bachelor of arts degree in December 1968 with a major in science and a minor in math.
He enlisted in the Montana National Guard at the same time as he began his teaching career in Froid in 1969. While there, he taught math, science and coached girls’ basketball for nine years. He also served as acting principal for a short time. In 1978, he taught math and coached girls’ basketball in Outlook, then in 1979 started teaching math and computers and coached girls’ basketball at Plentywood High School.
He retired from teaching in 1994. Jim worked part-time as an immigration inspector at the Raymond Port of Entry at the Montana/Canadian border for many years while teaching, then began working full-time at the border as a Customs and Border Protection examiner and later a supervisor, completing over 30 years by the time he retired in 2018.
He married Charlotte Brekke of Antelope on Nov. 26, 1971. They have four children, Julie Kleinberg of Tolland, Conn., Greg Nielsen of New Orleans, La., Brenda Arnston of Maddock, N.D., and Jeffrey Nielsen of Sidney.
He had numerous special interests that he pursued throughout his active life. He raised a large vegetable garden every summer at the family home in Plentywood. The produce raised was used to feed their family throughout the long winter and they generously donated to family and friends in the area. He also enjoyed keeping up the yard where he and Charlotte often entertained large groups of family and friends. He was an avid Minnesota Vikings fan and was able to attend a couple games in Minneapolis, Minn. Among his earlier special interests were collecting baseball cards, collecting brochures on the latest large farm tractors and the late 1960s Chevy Chevelle muscle cars (of which he owned two).
From a young age, he had a passion for broadcasting sports. When shooting hoops with family members, he liked to call the play-byplay and would even create make-believe games to announce. This set the foundation for his career in sports broadcasting. He became known as “the voice of sports announcing” for northeast Montana and brought enthusiasm and impartiality to every broadcast. In 2022, he celebrated 35 years as a sports broadcaster for KATQ.
He instilled many values in his family living by example. Whatever he did was done to the best of his ability and hard work, honesty and integrity were virtues held throughout his entire life. But, most importantly, his solid Christian faith guided his life and sustained him as he bravely faced his recent illness and challenges. Singing hymns was also deeply rooted in his upbringing and family reunions often ended with a group sing-along. He loved singing bass in church choirs over the years and was actively involved in various church functions. He was faithful about reading devotions and The Bible.
Preceding him in death were his brother, Howard Nielsen; and sisters, Gloria Kallevig and Jane Taylor.
He is survived by his wife, Charlotte; daughters, Julie and Brenda; sons, Greg and Jeffrey; 10 grandchildren; a great-grandchild who is due to arrive in May; brothers, Mark Nielsen of Lake Park, Minn., and Paul Nielsen of Rochester, N.Y.; sisters, Marie Ferkovich of Missoula and Karla West ofKalispell.
Funeral services were held Tuesday, March 21, at the Plentywood High School gymnasium with Pastor Tammy Craker officiating. Interment was at Plentywood Memorial Cemetery.