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Orval G. Nielsen, Le Mars elementary principal, dies at 86

Monday, November 8, 2004

Orval G. Nielsen, 86, of Le Mars, died Friday, Nov. 5, 2004, at Happy Siesta Health Care Center in Remsen.

Orval George Nielsen was born Aug. 13, 1918, in Elkhorn, the son of Hilmar and Marie (Mortensen) Nielsen. He was raised in Elkhorn and graduated from Elkhorn High School. Orval continued his education at Iowa Teacher's College in Cedar Falls, Iowa (now the University of Northern Iowa) where he received his teaching certificate.

Orval's first teaching job was in McCallsburg. He instructed students as well as coaching baseball and basketball. He continued his teaching and coaching career in Exira. In 1939, Orval was inducted into the United States Army. He served as a 1st Lieutenant (Artillery Executive Officer) in the Pacific Theater (New Guinea and the Philippines) and received two Bronze Stars. At the close of World War II, Orval found himself as an Officer's Candidate Instructor. He received his honorable discharge in 1946 and returned to Exira where he instructed junior high school students. Upon leaving Exira, he became junior high principal in Harlan.

On July 3, 1948, Orval and Barbara Sargisson were united in marriage at Grace Methodist Church in Sioux City. The couple moved to Osage in 1948 where Orval was elementary principal, they started their family, and he finished his BA degree at Iowa State Teachers College in Cedar Falls.

In 1952, Orval and his family relocated to Le Mars and he served the Le Mars Community School District as elementary school principal until his retirement in 1983. While in Le Mars Orval obtained his master of arts degree from the University of Iowa in Iowa City, in 1955. Orval also taught various summer school classes at Westmar College in Le Mars.

Orval was a member of St. John's Lutheran Church in Le Mars and had served as vice president and secretary. He was a lifetime member of the Rotary Club in Le Mars and was a past president. Orval had also served as an Iowa Youth Director. He was a member of Wasmer Post #241 of the American Legion in Le Mars. Orval was an accomplished golfer and an avid fisherman and hunter.

Orval is survived by his wife, Barbara Jane Nielsen, of Le Mars; two sons, Steven Sarg Nielsen and his wife, Phyllis, of Ripon, Wis., and Terry George Nielsen and his wife, Patricia, of Hinckley, Ill.; a daughter, Devin Ann Nielsen of St. Croix, Virgin Islands; four grandchildren, Kelly Ann, Sabrina Marie, Jessica Jane and Theodore Orval; a sister Heleen Nielsen of Storm Lake; his mother-in-law, Hallie Sargisson of Salix; sisters-in-law Helen Nielsen of Elkhorn, and Julianne Jorstad of Ames; a brother-in-law, Payne Sargisson of Salix; and several nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Paul; his father-in-law, Walton Sargisson; and a brother-in-law, Roger Jorstad.

Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at St. John's Lutheran Church in Le Mars with the Rev. Gary Landsness officiating. Burial will follow at West Fork Township Cemetery in Climbing Hill. Visitation will be after 2 p.m. today (Monday) at the Mauer-Johnson Funeral Home in Le Mars. The family will be present from 5 to 8 p.m. with a prayer service scheduled at 7 p.m. There will also be one hour of visitation at the church prior to the funeral.

Pallbearers will be Payne Sargisson, Theodore Nielsen, Norman Lang, Sabrina Nielsen, Gary Susemihl, Dean Hanno and Dan Ruden.