Harvey Wayne Nielsen was born Dec. 1, 1946 and passed away May 11, 2017, at the age of 70 years.
Harvey was the third child of Peter Harold and Halgerd Nielsen. He lived his life on the farm he loved in Big Meadow.
He leaves behind: his wife, Susan; and all four of his children and their families; Darla, and her husband, Garnet, and their two boys, Blake and Wyatt; Tyler, and his wife, Penny, and their son, Dylan; Tamara, and her husband, Sean, and their three children, Hunter, Gunnar and Soren; and Brady, and his wife, Angie, and their two daughters, Emma and Rebecca.
Harvey passed away in the hospital in Grande Prairie. In keeping with his wishes, the family held an open house Celebration of Life for him at the Big Meadow Hall on May 27.
Our farm was Harvey’s life: it was a part of who he was. Although over the years he had many jobs and some other businesses, his heart was really only ever in the farm. He had great appreciation for all that his grandfather had done to establish the homestead and leave a legacy of stewardship. He was proud to be able to continue the family heritage.
Harvey loved to grow things. The reason we have a greenhouse is so we could grow cotton, peanuts and other interesting things. He also loved animals. He had learned early in life that your animals always eat before you do so we had many meals at 10 or 11 at night after work and chores were finally done for the day. We bought wieners specifically so the four dogs could have one every night. He had the four cats just as spoiled.
They knew to go talk to him because it didn’t matter how many times he had already fed them, he would give them more. He used to complain that he spent his day being a doorman for the pets.
Harvey played hockey on the creek at Marien’s as a young boy, and football during high school, often when he should have been in classes. He remained passionate about these two sports all his life. His chair would get to rocking back and forth as he checked or tackled players while he watched the games on TV. When Tyler set up an informal game of football with some of his friends from Tolko, Harvey was in there playing like a young man, too.
One of Harvey’s many talents was that of art. He could sketch and paint, and he had also begun carving the last few years in both wood and stone. All of his work was done free hand. He did small pieces, wooden spoons, walking sticks, and a few chairs and animal statues for the yard. When we tried to compliment him he would brush us off saying, “Anybody can do it! It’s nothing special.”
We decided early on that we got married to be together so whatever we did would be done together. We went on very few holidays but while the kids were home, if we did go anywhere, we all went. We truly enjoyed having our kids with us and doing things as a family. As they grew up, it was Harvey who would keep checking with them about being home for holidays and special events. That was important to him.
Harvey was very honest and not afraid to voice his opinion. He used to say he worked hard and played hard. He loved to tease and have fun, and was often up to mischief. If he passed you the butter he would try to aim the dish so that your finger ended up in it. Card games could be interesting as he had a way of making up rules to suit himself, then enjoying the argument about who was right. It was not uncommon for him to dance with a partner in the kitchen. The jive was his favourite. Water fights were a popular spontaneous occurrence. After one of them, Harvey pulled Brady by his feet through the water on the floor to mop up.
He was happy when grandchildren were added to the family. He always had a treat of some kind stashed just for them. The boys know he loved them because he teased them, and the little girls loved to have him dance with them. They all loved to try to sit in his chair and then make sure he knew they were in it.
Harvey loved to learn new things. He enjoyed using the computer because he could look up anything and see what it looked like or how it was made, including recipes. He liked to cook and often I would come home from work to find several new recipes printed out that “We” had to try. He would strike up conversations with strangers and some of them ended up in very close and long term friendships.
Our life was pretty normal in that we went through many ups and downs. We were very fortunate in that unlike some couples, those events made us stronger and closer. Harvey suffered during the last couple years and he hated not being able to do everything that needed doing but he, too, has left a legacy. The farm will carry on. He not only taught us how to run the farm, but by him sharing so much of his heart, the farm also became a part of who we are.
The family extends a sincere thank you in appreciation of all the acts of kindness they received. There is much comfort in knowing that people care and even small gestures of goodwill are significant in a time of grief.