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Leif I Nielsen , Age: 83
February 07, 1938 -- September 27, 2021

In Memory of Leif Iver Nielsen, longtime Administrator at The Danish Home of Chicago

Beloved Husband, Father and Morfar, Leif Iver Nielsen passed away on Monday, September 27th, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois at the age of 83. Leif was born February 7, 1938 in Nørre Nebel, Denmark to Harry and Toni Nielsen.

As a young man in Denmark, Leif originally planned a merchandising career and graduated from Nørre Nebel Commercial School and the Aarhus Business and Commercial College. He worked for a large department store Salling in Aarhus, Ilums Bolighus in Copenhagen and prior to immigrating to Christiansted, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, you could have bumped into him if you had visited the American Air Force Base at Søndre Strømfjord (now Kangerlussuaq), a settlement in western Greenland where he spent one year.

After Leif immigrated to the Virgin Islands, 12 years elapsed before he moved to the “Mainland”. During his years on the Virgin Islands, Leif first worked in a large department store and was appointed General Manager for the Shopping Mall, a position he held until he came to Illinois in 1975. During his years on St. Croix, he met and married the love of his life, Diana, his wife of 58 years. He served as acting Danish Vice Consul for St. Croix and had a beautiful daughter Pia.

When Leif arrived in Illinois, he began working at The Admiral Retirement Home of Chicago, together with his wife Diana, formerly the Director of Nursing. In 1976, Leif was awarded his license as a Nursing Home Administrator by the State of Illinois.

In 1986, Leif accepted the position of Administrator of The Danish Home of Chicago. This was his dream! He would have his love for serving the elderly along with adding his own special touches of Danish heritage, traditions and delicacies. Leif hired a Danish Chef to work with The Danish Home staff to learn and cook Danish menu items, and he also started an exchange program with Danish Bakers. They would come over for several months at a time, get room and board, and make the best kringle and other Danish treats.

Leif was an outstanding leader and administrator of the Danish Home of Chicago for 25 years, and he was instrumental in adding many Danish touches to The Danish Home, including managing the large Home improvement Project around 2006-2008. Leif was a longtime board member of the Danish American Language Foundation and a longtime member of the Rebild National Park Society. He was a strong supporter of the Chicago-area and national Danish-American and Scandinavian-American clubs, lodges, and organizations.

He planned countless events throughout the years for his beloved Danish Home residents and the larger Nordic community, in addition to hosting dignitaries such as Danish Consuls, Ambassadors, entertainer Victor Borge, the Royal Danish Ballet, the Three Danish Tenors, Princess Benedikte, and the Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark. Among the popular gatherings at The Danish Home were the Monthly Birthday Parties, Prince of Denmark Dinners, Fall Fest and Frikadeller Luncheons, Little Christmas Eve Celebrations (Lillejuleaften), just to mention a few. In 2002, he planned the wedding of a lifetime for his daughter Pia and son-in-law Michael.

Leif retired from The Danish Home in May 2011 after 25 years of service. During his retirement, he enjoyed all the love he had for the fine arts, including attending matinees with Diana at the Lyric Opera House, visiting the Art Institute, and delighting in many of Chicago’s spectacular cultural venues. Leif and Diana traveled back to Minnesota several times to visit their daughter and her Family as well as a few trips back to Denmark. In 2018, Leif and Diana decided to sell their house and move next door as residents of The Danish Home of Chicago.

He loved sitting outside listening to classical music, feeding the birds and taking his dog Ms. Daisy for walks. Leif made an indelible mark on many people’s lives and will be remembered as a gentleman and a friend to all.

Thank you to all the staff at The Danish Home, SunCrest Comfort Care and The Platinum group for taking care of Leif. A special Thank you to all the residents for being part of his life.

He is survived by his wife Diana, daughter Pia, son-in-law Michael, and grandsons, Jack Nielsen and Griffin Iver.

Leif also leaves behind family in Varde, Denmark, including sister Henny, her husband Poul Erik, niece Dorthe, her children Mie, Katrine, Jacob, and nephews Soren, Kurt and Carsten.

He is also survived by family in Rungsted Kyst, Denmark, including niece Marianne, her husband Torben, and their children Astrid, Dina, Anna and Daniel.

Leif’s family also extended to Seaford, England, where he leaves behind sister-in-law Judith Batey, nephew Paul, his wife Alison and children.

He also had family in Griffithstown, Wales, including brother- and sister-in-Law Huw & Frances Davies, nieces Deena, husband Dave and Alyson and her son Ben.

Sean Rodriguez, his wife Ivy, their children Kaisy and Paul were a very large part of the Nielsen family’s lives at The Danish Home.

Leif was preceded in death by parents Harry and Toni, his mother-in-law and father-in-law Doris and Jesse, his brother Bendt, sister-in-law Christa, niece Ann and nephew Stephen.

A Memorial Service is planned for Saturday, October 9th, 2021 at Edison Park Lutheran Church, 6626 N. Oliphant Avenue, Chicago, IL 60631 with the Gathering at 10 a.m. followed by the Service at 11 a.m.

All Honor to Leif’s Memory.

Memorials in honor of Leif Nielsen are very much appreciated to:

The Danish American Language Foundation visit www.DALF.US

The Danish Home Foundation visit www.danishhomeofchicago.org

Anti-Cruelty Society of Chicago www.anticruelty.org

Condolences

Kwaben Komai October 01, 2021

Grade school friend with Pia Richmond Hill , Georgia

Dear Pia, My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. May his Soul Rest In Peace.


Trevor and Donna Mae Huss October 02, 2021

Friends of Pia Savage , Minnesota

Our deepest sympathy is with the Nielsen and McDonough family. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family during this difficult time.


Melita Laroco October 02, 2021

Nurse at The Danish Home Chicago , Illinois

Whenever someone special leave his legacy, there’s always a trail of great memories to the lives of whom he has touched . Mr. Nielsen will be greatly missed and will always be remembered. To the bereaved family,: May the blessings of our Lord give you the comfort and peace that you need during this difficult time.


Kathy Riordan October 03, 2021

Pia, Leif’s daughter, attended the school where I was a counselor Chicago , Illinois

My thoughts/prayers are with you . May your faith, family , memories, stories and friends bring you healing and comfort. Together with Diana, he raised a great daughter. God bless…


Grace Barney October 04, 2021

Worked in activity department at DH Home Elmhurst , Illinois

My condolences to Diana, Pia, family, and Members of the Danish Community. May your memories be a support at this time. You are in my thoughts and prayers.


Brian Conrad October 07, 2021

Friend Dubai ,

My condolences to Leif’s family, what a tragedy that this amazing man and role model has left us. Leif was such an inspiration to me. I met Leif for the first time through one of his Danish exchange baker workers, always kind and helpful to others. You will truly be missed Leif ❤️


Heather October 08, 2021

Friend Carmel , Indiana

Beautifully said obituary about Leif. He will be missed by many. Curt and I send our thought and prayers and will be in attendance at the ceremony on Saturday to support Diana and the family.



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Olson Burke-Sullivan
Funeral & Cremation Center
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Chicago, IL 60631
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