On July 6th a lamp expired. Howard fan and scholar Leon Nielsen passed away. Leon always bought issues of my zine and contacted me in the fall of 2005 about writing a Foreword for his bibliography-biography of Howard. I was flattered that he asked and set about writing it while also providing some input on the copy of the manuscript he sent me. Soon we were corresponding regularly and I learned of his battle with cancer. During this period, the cancer came back with a vengeance and Leon was in for several rounds of chemotherapy. He never complained, but steadily vowed to beat it, while in the back of his mind he must have known how high the odds were. He was a devoted husband and father and had accomplished many things in his 70 years, and I am glad he was able to complete his Howard book, which he loved dearly working on. Barbara Baum said she spoke with his wife during some trying times and she told Barbara that Leon was afraid he wouldn’t be able to finish the book before the cancer overtook him. Now that his work is done, he can rest easy. Lord knows he’s earned it.
Here is Leon’s obituary:
April 26, 1937 – July 6, 2007
A private Catholic Mass will be held
Leon Nielsen was born in Viby, Denmark on April 26, 1937, and passed in to the hands of God on July 6, 2007. He was a Renaissance man and an adventurer determined to make his life meaningful for the well-being of people, animals and the environment.
Educated in Denmark, Leon became a member of the elite Danish Jaegerkorpset military team. A skilled paratrooper and strategist, he wrote numerous training manuals and taught military units in Denmark, England, France and Germany. In an officer exchange program with the U.S. Leon earned his Ranger badge and served with distinction in Vietnam with the Special Forces.
After ten years with the Canadian Wildlife Service, Leon became an internationally known wildlife biologist through his many scientific writings and research. He traveled worldwide and authored seven reference books, but had a special love for Africa. Familiar with all animals, he specialized in elephants, rhinos and lions, and he trained anti-poaching units in various countries.
Leon lived his life with honor, generosity of spirit and a strong sense of duty. He was a man of courage, charm and conviction. Leon is survived by his best friend and devoted wife, Jill Turcott-Nielsen, and best loved sons, Logan and Flemming, without whom his life would not have been complete. He is survived by his dearly loved sister, Melitha, and other family in Denmark and Canada. Leon will be deeply missed by loved ones and colleagues throughout the world.
A private Catholic Mass will be celebrated in accordance with Leon’s last wish.
You can read Leon’s “The Image of Conan” article that appears in the current issue of REH: Two-Gun Raconteur here.