Fredrick Adams Neilson was my father and I write this remembrance of him with the input of other family members.
Dad was born July 4th, 1931, on a very hot day in his home in Washington, Utah, a few minutes before his twin brother, Ferd. Dad had 2 older brothers, “Junior” and Russell and 1 younger brother, Butch. His wife, Delsa, parents, (Antone and Vilate), and all the brothers preceded dad leaving this earth life along with son and namesake Fredrick Adams “Rick” Neilson, Junior.
My father’s life cannot be fully chronicled here because lives are so much more than a few statistics or sentences, but it is my hope you will recognize him in my portrait of words. He was raised on a farm, and I think that is where he was always the most comfortable. The yards at our homes were very well kept as I think was the family farm. Words that compliment his existence would be, horseman, athlete, (check out Ripley’s Believe it or Not), dancer, (he loved to dance and was very good, I can attest to that personally), musician, (harmonica, ukulele, piano), vocalist, and music director. I still have vivid recollections of him in our church chapel leading the congregation singing “When There’s Love at Home” for the opening of Sunday School. Not too many knew he was a scout master, pine nut scavenger, wood cutter, (I think he won the prize for the largest wood pile, and possibly “cut” his first tooth on a chain saw) and fire builder. Waking up on cold mornings and running to the fire he made for us to enjoy before facing the day was the best way to start any day.
Cooking was a passion. He owned the Dairy Freeze on St. George Boulevard and was the trend setter for closing shop on Sundays. Omelets and Dutch Oven potatoes, his hallmark, were savored by family and friends. Working at Zions National Park he not only was a cook but would dress as an Indian and on horseback chase the stagecoach full of visitors to welcome/scare them into the park. Patrons of Dick’s Café and those attending a variety of events enjoyed the results of this culinary skill.
In March of 1953, dad joined the army, was stationed at Fort Ord in California, and at the age of 22, became a platoon sgt. After leaving the military he attended and graduated from Brigham Young University, earned his teaching certificate, and later attended Northern Arizona University for his masters. In his educational career he was a 5th grade teacher but took a 5 year break to be the first principal at the school in Hildale, Utah. That spurred many interesting discussions around the dinner table.
On occasion he was very grumpy, and when asked a question he would quickly answer, “no”. Then a few minutes later he would alter that response and help us do or get whatever we needed his help in obtaining or doing. He really would do anything for us. I believe he and mother taught us, by example, to help others.
I am sure that the best thing my father ever did was to marry my mother, Delsa Kirby. They met on their missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Canada. She gave up her own dream of becoming a lawyer and worked as a nurse, to help support him during the BYU years. Dad wasn’t a risk taker, but mom loved life and encouraged dad to step out of his comfort zone. He could be a workaholic, so she filled our home with friends and laughter. She planned vacations and surprise birthday parties so he would stop working and enjoy people. She encouraged the purchase of a motorcycle, a boat, and together they experienced camping and hiking adventures. It was on one of their hikes that dad saved mom’s life. He saved her from drowning. That is the greatest gift a father can give his children, more years with their mother. Thank you, dad. Whenever he returned from wherever he had been, the first thing he would do was find mom and give her a kiss. In their “golden years” they served a mission for the church in Michigan.
So, this is the end of a partial synopsis of my father’s life. Certainly, it is not all encompassing, just a few memories. Maybe you learned some things about him. Maybe my thoughts stimulated some memories you have of him that I would love you to share.
Frederick Adams Neilson rejoined family members beyond the veil on November 24, 2023, in a comfortable, loving, and peaceful home. The home of my brother, Nick, who took dad into his home in March of 2020 and was aided by our brother Nate for the last two months of dad’s life.
- Mary Ann, Daughter
Arrangements are made under the direction of Spilsbury Mortuary, 110 S Bluff St., St George, Utah.
Friends and family are invited to sign Fredrick’s online guest book at www.spilsburymortuary.com