Thomas (Tom) L. Neilson, 89, retired U.S. Navy Captain, died Monday, October 21, 2013.
Tom was born July 28, 1924, in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was raised in Evanston, WY, by his parents Robert and Lucy Porter Neilson.
Tom joined the Navy after graduation from Evanston High School, and had a distinguished naval career spanning almost three decades. As a naval aviator in WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam, he earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star, seven air medals, and the Presidential Unit Citation.
Capt. Neilson received his Ph.D. from American University, graduated from National War College, Naval War College, the State Department Foreign Institute, and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Harvard University.
He also represented the Navy on the National Security Council during the Nixon administration.
Following retirement from the Navy in 1970, he obtained his J.D. from Florida State University, and had a successful law practice in Tallahassee and Panama City for 25 years. Tom loved the ocean and some of his children's earliest memories are sitting beside him fishing. He credited his strong Christian values to the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He believed family came first and was adored by his grandchildren. He taught the importance of life-long learning and, by his example, showed that with hard work, dreams can become reality.
Tom is survived by his wife, Elisabeth (Leigh); two sons, Thomas (wife Andrea) and Kevin; six daughters, Diane Weldin, Linda Biedermann (husband Charles), Aleta Neilson, Ada Neilson, Beth Ray (husband Jess), Erin Toole (husband Dana).
He also leaves behind 15 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.