Cody Community Pillar & Buffalo Bill Center of the West Trustee Jim Nielson Has Passed Away
Written by Caleb Nelson on November 18, 2022
Executive Director of By Western Hands, Mary Sims, writes, “We are saddened to share with you the passing yesterday morning of one of our most dedicated patrons and dear friends, Jim Nielson. By Western Hands would not have been possible without Jim’s belief in our mission and his enthusiastic community and financial support. Jim’s love of his family, community, By Western Hands and the Buffalo Bill Center of the West is exemplary of how a person can live a fulfilling life and leave the world a better place.”
Jim Nielson was the Center’s second-longest serving Trustee, starting in 1973, where he served for an amazing 49 years. He worked on the Board alongside his father Glenn for a number of years as well.
Jim and his wife, Anne Young, had a desire to share the Center’s collections and expertise far and wide. One way they accomplished that was by being major sponsors of numerous exhibitions and programs including: Invisible Boundaries: Exploring Yellowstone’s Great Animal Migrations; Albert Bierstadt: Witness to a Changing West; the Peter Hassrick Public Programs fund; and the upcoming Alfred Jacob Miller: Revisiting the Rendezvous in Scotland and Today.
Jim and Anne were guests of honor at the Patrons Ball in 2010 and chose to have the reception in the Plains Indian Museum. To honor his service to the Center, the James E. Nielson Water Garden was dedicated at the Center of the West in 2019.
As another lasting gift, the Nielson family also helped the Center acquire the Paul Dyck Plains Indian Buffalo Culture Collection. This large and culturally vital collection of rare Native items from numerous Northern Plains tribes remains “immeasurably important,” the Center says.
When Jim tried to retire as a Trustee in 2016, his longtime and close personal friend Al Simpson “simply would not let him,” the Center explains.
Executive Director and CEO of Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Rebecca West, says, “The Staff and Board of Trustees of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West was deeply saddened when we learned of the death of Jim Nielson, our beloved benefactor and Trustee, and an incredible friend to us and the Cody and Park County community. Thanks to Jim’s decades of unwavering wisdom, dedication, foresight, and generosity, the future indeed remains bright for the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and our local community.”
In his resignation letter, which the board rejected, Jim stated: “I have done my best to serve the Board and foster the growth and well-being of the Center. Working diligently with others who share a keen interest in and love for the Center has been a very rewarding experience for me. It is exciting to think about what lies ahead and I look forward to seeing future strides.”
“Jim Nielson was a kind and caring individual, and a foundational pillar of his community for decades. He was an admirably savvy business man who was always true to his word. If he supported a project or an idea, he would see it through with his determined, quiet-but-firm approach. You never had to guess what Jim wanted or was thinking—he was a great communicator. It has been an honor working with Jim, and especially rewarding to share laughs, memories, and to watch him enjoy life with Anne and his family,” West says.