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image of Mark NielsonMark Nielsen

County flags have been lowered in honor of the passing of former Supervisor J. Mark Nielsen, District III, who died while on vacation in China with his wife, Shirley. A memorial service for former Supervisor J. Mark Nielsen will be held on Monday, April 10, 2006 at 12 noon at Green Valley Community Church on Missouri Flat Road. Following the service, you are invited to partake in lunch at the Food Court located in the lower level of the church. e following is the article written by Noel Stack, City Editor of the Mountain Democrat, March 31, 2006, front page

image of Mark NielsenThe following is the article written  written by Noel Stack, City Editor of the Mountain Democrat, March 31, 2006 front page

March 31, 1931 - March 30, 2006
Nielsen dies in China; remembered for his eloquence .Mark Nielsen, longtime Placerville resident and former County supervisor, died yesterday while on a trip in China with his wife, Shirley, and friends. Nielsen had just turned 75.

“He had such a wonderful wit,” said longtime friend Patty Borelli. “He always made me laugh. He was great guy and certainly contributed a lot to our community, and will be missed.”

Borelli and Nielsen recently worked together on reviving the city of Placerville's trail plaque program, in honor of Borelli's husband, Carl, who died in 2003. He wouldn't let the city get rid of it, Borelli said, he kept saying that's Carl's program.

Mark was often seen walking on the city's trails. The exercise, he once said, greatly improved his health.

Karen Tustin, friend and Nielsen's law partner for 12 years (1980-1992), said Nielsen had a way with people. Clients would come in fuming mad and after 30 minutes with Nielsen, they would leave the office laughing. “He was probably the most eloquent person I've known,” Tustin said. “. He really overcame adversity with perfect good humor and charm.”

Charm is what former District II County Supervisor Ray Nutting remembers about Nielsen as well. The two served on the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors together. Nielsen held the District III seat from January 1993 to December 2000. “I found Mark as one of the most incredibly bright people I ever met, extremely witty and charming,” said Nutting, who also said he spoke with Mark before his trip to China and he was in good spirits.

If it wasn't for Nielsen, Auditor-Controller Joe Harn said he wouldn't be working for El Dorado County. Nielsen was a mentor, Harn said. “I just learned a lot from Mark,” Harn said. “If I had a problem I would call up Mark Nielsen. I went to him for advice for all kinds of things, personal and professional.”

Even though their votes differed, former District 3 planning commissioner Doug Noble, a Nielsen appointee, said Nielsen was always professional. “He always respected me,” Noble said. “He was very respectful of other people.” Nielsen was also very community-minded, Noble added.

If a worthy project was proposed, Nielsen was there to help. “His last grand gesture toward good government was saving the city's trail plaque program from bureaucratic desuetude,” said Mountain Democrat Editor Michael Raffety said. “Mark Nielsen loved a good cause and a noble effort. And he always found something to laugh about as he pursued his efforts to improve local government.”

Nielsen's résumé also includes serving as El Dorado County's administrator from 1967 to 1972 and from 1987 to 1991, he served on the El Dorado Irrigation District Board of Directors. After he served on the Board of Supervisors, Nielsen was named court executive officer for El Dorado County Superior Court. He served in that position from January 2001 to May 2002.

Nielsen received a Certificate in Public Administration from California State University, San Diego, in 1961 and was admitted to the bar in 1975 after graduating with a Juris Doctor from McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific in Sacramento.

He served as the president of the El Dorado County Bar Association in 1982.

“As an attorney his advice was sound and his courtroom demeanor was chivalrous and sprinkled with humor,” Raffety said. “His sense of humor carried over to his work on the El Dorado Irrigation District Board of Directors and the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors. Fearless also summarizes his work as an elected official on both boards. His experience as an assistant county administrator gave him insights that few other elected county supervisors have.”

Nielsen was also a Marine, which brought him together with many in the community. Former Marine Leonard Stroud, who lived down the street from the Nielsens, said it was Nielsen, along with Stroud, Carl Borelli and Jack Graff, who got things going for the local Marine Corps Ball.

Already, Marines are finding ways to honor Nielsen. Plans are underway to include a brick with Nielsen's name on it in the Circle of Honor at El Dorado County's Veterans Memorial, which will be under construction shortly.

Stroud said Nielsen also kept him on his toes with his command of the English language. After the two of them would talk, Stroud said he would have go home and grab a dictionary to figure out what was said. “He was a man of considerable character and considerable strength,” Stroud said. “His mind was constantly going, He was just a lot of fun and I'm going to miss him something fierce.”

In addition to his wife, Nielsen left behind two sons, Steve and John, and several grandchildren.