Simply put, Sandi Nielson touched lives.
So much so that when, on August 19, 62-year-old Sandra Margene Nielson lost her valiant battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Avondale Mayor Kenn Weise proclaimed August 28 “Sandi Nielson Memorial Day.”
A member of Coldwater Ward, Phoenix West Maricopa Stake, at the time of her death, Sandi was born March 13, 1955, to G. Larry and Betty Gibb. She grew up in an Air Force family, so lived in places across the United States and Canada. In 1975, she married Curtis Nielson in the Salt Lake Temple. They moved to Arizona the following year, and, after living in San Manuel and Tucson, relocated to Avondale in 2004.
Sandi was elected to a four-year term on the Avondale City Council in 2014, and in January 2017, the council appointed her Vice Mayor.
“Sandi Nielson embodied everything that was good, and selfless, and noble in public service,” Mayor Weise said. “Whether it was at her church, or on her homeowners’ association and school boards, Sandi was always there to volunteer her time and talents.”
Indeed, Sandi has made a difference, serving since as president of her homeowners’ association for more than a decade, on the governing board of two school districts, on the Board of Directors for the Southwest Valley Chamber, and as Chair of the Avondale Interfaith Council.
Working with youth, she taught 4H girls to sew, served as a Girl Scouts cookie coordinator, and for many years, supported Boy Scouts and oversaw Eagle Scout Projects, for which she was honored with the District Award of Merit, the council-level Silver Beaver Award, and a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Sandi was an avid reader and loved to travel, visiting every state in the United States and many countries, including Brazil, Israel and Turkey.
Most of all, she loved Curtis, her four children and 15 grandchildren—and loved knowing that her family could be eternal.
Sandi, who joined the Church when she was 17, posted her testimony on Mormon.org, saying, “Being a member of this church has answered so many of my questions, given me understanding about Jesus Christ’s atonement for each of us, where I came from, what I am to do here on earth, and how to return to my loving Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.”
She added, “I love the doctrine of Families are Eternal.…My husband and I have been married in one of the Temples and our family is now sealed forever. I love my husband dearly. I cannot comprehend a heaven without him forever.”
Of her many Church callings, her favorite was serving in the Mesa and Phoenix Temples.
Sandi is survived by her parents, by Curtis, their children and spouses: Jason and Carrie Nielson, Heidi and Jace Larkin, Peter and Meggan Nielson, and Serina and Nicholas Haines. She is also survived by 15 grandchildren.
Avondale Councilman Lorenzo Sierra voiced the feelings of all who knew her when he wrote on Facebook, “Our world – my life – is better because it was graced with her love and presence.”
Anyone wishing to donate to ALS Foundation in Sandi’s name may visit http://webaz.alsa.org
Story by Cecily Markland Condie, The Arizona Beehive