Faithfulness, compassion, and authenticity were the hallmarks of the life of Neal Martin Nielsen.
Neal fought many health issues through the years and passed away at home surrounded by his adoring family on May 19, 2022.
He briefly received care from Harbor Hospice.
Neal was born June 15, 1945 and graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School, Port Arthur in 1963. He enlisted in the United States Navy in 1966, served aboard the USS Constitution Aircraft Carrier in Vietnam, was later stationed in Yokosuka, Japan, and received an Honorable Discharge in 1972. Neal proudly wore a cap emblazoned with Vietnam Veteran.
Neal married Jane Sharon Burns in 1971 at St. John the Divine Episcopal Church, Houston.
The young couple moved to Port Arthur where they lived until their home was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey, after which they moved to Beaumont in 2018. Neal and Jane joyfully celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary in 2021 by renewing their wedding vows.
Neal graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in General Business from Lamar University in 1978 and worked at Nielsen’s Office Supplies and Gifts in Downtown Port Arthur, Texas Employment Commission, Area Agency on Aging, Vocational Support Services, and Social Systems.
He became a licensed social worker in 1994 and worked as an Investigator for Child Protective Services from which he retired in 2010.
Neal believed that his work with child protection was his vocation and he prayed daily over the case files of his assigned children; he prayed for the children, their families, and all who would be part of their journeys. When Neal retired, he continued his work with foster children as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) appointed by the judge to be the children’s voice in court.
Through the years he was dedicated to serving his community through the Port Arthur Kiwanis Club, Port Arthur Little Theater; Port Arthur Computer Club; and was one of the first male members of the Quota Club of Southeast Texas.
Neal became an active member and supporter of Camp Fire, Inc. and, most notably, advocated and supported the formation of a church sponsored community club benefitting low-income families.
Neal was a devout Episcopalian and was a dedicated member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Beaumont, in his later years, and St. George’s in Port Arthur in his earlier years.
He was a Lay Eucharistic Visitor, cashier at St. Mark’s Treasure House, and was a greeter for the church’s Friday Morning Ministry to the homeless.
Neal remained an active part of the Cursillo Ministry in the Diocese of Texas for almost four decades and he served on the Secretariat (the governing body) for several terms. Neal served on many Cursillo teams, both publicly and behind-the-scenes.
While his involvement in the community and church were substantial, nothing was more important to Neal than his family.
Quietly supporting the endeavors of Jane, daughter Janeal, and grandson Cree always held priority for his time and attention. Even as his health declined, he continued to love his family’s weekly movie nights and enjoyed learning how to play Dungeons and Dragons from his grandson during family game nights.
He was immensely proud of his family especially his daughter, Janeal, who received her doctorate in social work the day after Neal passed away.
Neal was preceded in death by his parents, Prudence Allsbrook Nielsen and Elmer Westergäärd Nielsen, his sister, Mary Aucoin, and his paternal aunt, Agnes Nielsen Daviss.
He is survived by his wife, Jane; daughter, Janeal Marie White and husband, Brian; grandson, Cree Nielsen-Sewell; sister, Ann Hansen of Port Arthur; brothers, Westergäärd Nielsen (Beata) of Virginia; John Nielsen (Sue) of Kingsland, Texas; brother-in-law, James Aucoin of Port Arthur; nieces, Susanne Pennington (Danny); Barbara Edington (Kelly); Christine Battaglia; Jamie Aucoin; Jennifer Aucoin; Kasia Nielsen; and Nina Nielsen; nephews, West Hansen (Lizet) and Christopher Aucoin; great-nieces, Danielle Slikker (Aart); Monica Pennington; Isabella Hansen; and Lauran Edington; great-nephew, Joey Battaglia; and great-great niece, Blakelyn Pennington.
A memorial service for Mr. Nielsen will be at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, May 28, 2022, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 680 Calder Avenue, Beaumont.
His ennichment will follow at St. Mark’s Columbarium under the direction of Broussard’s, 1605 North Major Drive, Beaumont.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made for the Friday Morning Ministry at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Beaumont.