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Gary Lee Nielsen, age 85, long-time Trufant businessman and resident, passed away peacefully on Tuesday, March 22, 2022 at VNA Hospice House in Vero Beach, Florida, surrounded by his loving family.

The son of Gordon “Ossie” & Irene (Knopf) Nielsen, he was born on November 1, 1936 in Trufant.  After graduating from Lakeview High School in 1954, he joined his father’s insurance agency where he remained until retirement.  Gary had many fond memories and lasting friendships from growing up in the close knit and loving community of Trufant.

Throughout Gary’s life he enjoyed sports. He was a legend in his own right at his high school where he ran track, played baseball, football and of course his favorite sport basketball. Gary loved the Tigers and faithfully followed them throughout the years. Gary’s constant happy personality and enthusiastic encouragement has touched and enriched so many lives throughout the years.

Soon after joining the family business Gary married Mary Louise Wilson whom he had known his entire life. They welcomed a son, Larry Edward in September 1958 and later welcomed their daughter, Tara Jane in 1970. Gary was a devoted father and friend to his children. He never missed a sporting event and was their biggest fan.

Fast forward, Gary met the love of his life, Carolyn Tooker in 1994. They were married in 1996 and spent the next 27 years traveling, golfing, playing tennis and spending time with their grandchildren. Throughout their adventures they were blessed to have met many lifelong friends through Gary’s softball teams and their homes in Michigan and Florida. Gary and Carolyn made an amazing team together and their love grew stronger every year. Gary’s greatest joy was watching his thirteen grandchildren play sports.

He was preceded in death by his parents; two brothers, Gordon Nielsen and Robert Nielsen; and a sister, Germaine Buchholz.

Surviving are his wife, Carolyn Nielsen; two children, Larry Nielsen and Tara & Jim Babbitt; three step-children, Trevor & Lori Tooker, Traci & Rick Costen, and Jason & Bethany Tooker; thirteen grandchildren, Trevor N., Mitchell, Jack, Lilly, Elizabeth & Brandon, Lindsey & Alex, Jordan, Trevor, Spencer, Brenden, Riley, Kaeden, Emmalynn; one precious great granddaughter, Charlotte; and several nieces and nephews.

Relatives and friends are invited to celebrate Gary’s life at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, May 9, 2022 at City Church Greenville (which shares space with the First United Methodist Church), 204 W. Cass Street, Greenville.  Pastor Tim Simon of City Church will officiate and a luncheon will follow the ceremony.

Instead of flowers, contributions in Gary’s memory to City Church Greenville for their outreach ministries would be appreciated.  Envelopes will be available at the church.  Contributions may also be given online at: or by mail to City Church Greenville,  P.O. Box 884, Greenville, MI 48838.

To send a message of sympathy to the family, sign Gary’s online guest book, or to share a favorite memory, please visit:  Christiansen’s Michigan Cremation & Funeral Care, Greenville, assisted the family.


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2 Condolences

  1. Jackie and Phil Payne on April 29, 2022 at 4:58 pm

    We have spent the last several years playing bridge, tennis and golf with Gary and Carolyn. He was a great friend and our lives will be affected by his absence as with his family and numerous friends. We send our heartfelt love to Carolyn and all others who will miss his presence in their lives. God bless and keep Gary in your kingdom.u

  2. Larry Finkbeiner on May 1, 2022 at 7:57 am

    We are so sorry and are thinking and praying for all of you. Gary will be missed by all of us at the Tuesday and Thursday golf group. Although Gary was a little quiet, he said a lot with his little grin whenever we picked on each other. He was one that we always hope to get on our team as he was so consistent. We also waited for Gary to the very end before picking teams because he would show up at the last minute. Our group will not be same without Gary. All our love goes out to the family.

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