Joseph Rex Nielson passed away on May 6, 2017, at Blue Mountain Hospital, with his family at his bedside. He was 94 years of age. He lived a full, active life until advanced age slowed him down.
He was very independent and took care of himself in his later years until he went to stay in the Southern Utah Veterans’ Home in Ivins, UT the last two months of his life.
He had just returned home when he became ill and had to be hospitalized, passing away just days later.
Rex was proud of his pioneer heritage and loved San Juan County, Blue Mountain, and his home.
He had a deep love for his parents and brother and sisters, Venice, Yvonne, DeReese, Erma and Peggy. He so enjoyed his visits with Peggy and her husband while he was in the Southern Utah Veterans Home.
He had a wonderful childhood. Times were hard, but he grew up happy. As a young boy, he milked the family cows and also several neighbor’s cows every morning before school, so he could earn money to buy a new bicycle from the Montgomery Ward catalog.
He played marbles a lot. He used to spend a lot of time at the old Nielson Cash store which was on the corner where the Canyon Country store is now. He was a good singer when he was young, and the cattlemen who spent time at the cash store used to pay to hear him yodel.
When he was 14 years old, he went to Indian Creek to work for the summer, driving a derrick team of mules that pulled slings of hay up on the haystacks. He became attached to those mules, and went back for several summers to work there. He was always glad that those faithful old mules were waiting for him.
He graduated from high school in 1940 and went to trade school in Price for a while and then went to work in Salt Lake.
He was working there when on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. He came back home to register for the draft but was not called into the service until 1943. He served in the Navy on board an aircraft carrier, the Cape Esperance and survived a terrible typhoon in December of 1944.
He came home from the service and courted Allie Black. They were married in July of 1946. Their marriage was later solemnized in the Manti Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
They had five children, Ida Mae, who lived for only a short time, Kathryn (Jack) Montella, Paula (Jeff) Rogers, Jim, and Tami (Kevin) Clark. Cindy (Hollis) Dixon was adopted into the family when she was 10 years old.
Rex always worked hard. He drove truck for several people when he was a young man, delivering gas or freight over dirt and gravel roads.
He went to work for his father-in-law, Paul J. Black, in the 1950’s and got into the oil and gas business. They built a service station, which he operated and he also drove the gas delivery truck.
He built a motel next to the service station which he and Allie ran. He also became involved in the copper mining industry in Fry Canyon.
After he sold these businesses, he bought an old drill rig and loved to drill his ore claims out on Elk Ridge. He also worked for the county road department driving a gravel truck.
He and Allie built the Mini Mart and ran it for many years with the help of their son, Jim. He also purchased the Plateau station at the south end of town which became Southway Mini Mart, and the store at Shirttail Corner. He operated these businesses for many years.
He finally sold his businesses and retired to care for Allie, whose health was declining. She passed away in 2011.
He continued to stay active and was always glad to have a visit from his family and everyone who would just drop in. He loved his grandkids and great-grandkids, was proud of every one of them.
He loved music, the big bands from the 1940’s and Lawrence Welk. He never missed watching the Lawrence Welk show, including the reruns.
His memory was amazing. He remembered everyone from the “old days” and all the history of San Juan County. He loved to reminisce.
He was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His faith was strong. He always enjoyed having his home teachers visit him.
In June of 2015, he suffered a broken leg and was confined to his home for the next year and a half. He was still very independent and did everything he could to care for himself. He didn’t want to be a burden to anyone.
However, he did need help and his daughter, Paula and son-in-law, Jeff Rogers. They became his caregivers and spent many hours in his service.
Rex leaves behind five children, 12 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild. He is survived by his sister, Peggy.
In keeping with his wishes, a small family service was held at the San Juan Mortuary on May 11, 2017, with military honors at the graveside at the Blanding City Cemetery.
He will be dearly missed by all who knew and loved him.
Card of thanks
The family wishes to express their thanks and appreciation to everyone who has offered their love and support at this time.
We want to thank Tyler Bailey and Leighton Cowboy for helping to take care of dad after he came home from the Southern Utah Veterans Home.
Also, we so appreciate the excellent care given and compassion shown by the doctors and nursing staff at Blue Mountain Hospital during his final days.