- Date: 17 August 2023
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Daniel Paul Nissen
Our family is saddened to announce that Daniel Paul Nissen (Cuba City, previously of Galena, IL and Waterloo, Iowa) passed away peacefully at home in the early hours of his sleep on Thursday, August 10th with his wife at his side and hand in hand. The man who built a foundation of warmth and empathy, who preferred kindness and gentleness to all else was the rock of our family. Those who treasured him on earth are and will treasure his memory with continued love are his loving wife Laura Nissen (Cuba City, WI previously of Galena, IL), his beloved sons, Mark Nissen (Gilbertville, Iowa) and Andrew Nissen (Clive, Iowa), Daughter-in-law, Lindsey Nissen (Gilbertville, Iowa), Granddaughter, Kendra Nissen (Gilbertville, Iowa) Granddaughter, Kloe Nissen (Gilbertville, Iowa) Father-in-law, John MacCall (Moline, IL), Mother-in-law, Linda MacCall (Moline, IL) Brother-in-law, Scott MacCall (Bozeman, Montana) Sister-in-law, Susan MacCall (Bozeman, Montana) lifelong friend, Chris Kerkel (Dickeyville, WI) and his new “bucket list” kitten, Beasie. In addition, Dan was blessed with so many additional friends, relatives, and neighbors. Far too many to name but Dan deeply loved them all. Dan was pre-deceased by his parents, Marie and Warren Nissen, and his nephew, Sam Nissen. Dan Nissen was born in Waterloo, Iowa to Warren Floyd Nissen and Marie Cecelia Gallagher Nissen in January 1952. Many of his fondest memories were growing up in the sixties with his band of brothers – Jim Nissen (Cindy) and Jeff Nissen (Kandi), friends, family, and neighbors. Dan referred to this era as his “kick the can” days of a more innocent age. He was raised a devout Catholic and continued that strong faith throughout his lifetime. He was incredibly grateful for the faith and strong values that his parents instilled in him. That very faith grew exponentially throughout his lifetime and sustained him for his 71 years. God was inherent in him as he reflected the love of God throughout his entire journey. Dan attended school in the Catholic school system. He attended Columbus High School, and it was there that he developed his love for sports and the community and camaraderie that came with working with a team to accomplish a goal. As his passion for sports expanded, it was evident that he was gifted at track and field. As graduation approached and his records mounted many universities were asking him to come to their university on a full-ride track scholarship. After graduation from Columbus, Dan enthusiastically decided to attend Iowa State University to continue his track career. It is with great joy all these years later that he was able to see Kendra and Kloe bloom in their early track career. He was so happy for their accomplishments on the track, their academic excellence, and most importantly their love of God and the fine young ladies they have become. Being a grandfather to Kendra and Kloe is one of the greatest joys in his life. But by far his greatest joys in life were his twin boys, Mark and Andrew. They too grew up in Waterloo and were blessed by Dan and their mother, Kim. Dan and Kim married in September of 1976 in Waterloo, Iowa. Mark and Andrew were born in October 1983. Mark and Andrew attended the same school as their dad. He was so proud of them and their love of God and approach to life. It gave him great peace to know that they continue to live their best life. He always talked about both giving him so many reasons to be proud of the men they have become. Dan’s love for Mark and Andrew was and is today simply immeasurable. During their early careers, Dan and Laura lived in Waterloo/Cedar Falls, Iowa City, Bettendorf, Iowa, Foster City, California, Columbia, Maryland, Rochester, Minnesota, and Winfield, Illinois but ultimately when it became time to set their roots after marriage they settled in rural Galena, IL in 1990. Dan and Laura married in October of 1990 in Ellicott City, MD. They built their home in Galena shortly thereafter and lived a rich and fulfilling life there for well over 30 + years. Dan was a quiet man who loved nature and animals and loved to be at home. He very much valued freedom and lived life on his own terms. Growing up a city kid, he loved the freedom that living in the country allowed. It was especially important to him to have Mark and Andrew experience rural America and run wide open in beautiful and vast expanses of Jo Daviess County. He loved working for the team at Runde Chevrolet and worked there until early retirement due to health challenges. Dan was a very bright and gifted man. He had many hobbies and interests. To name a few, he loved to mow his lawn with his many John Deere tractors, and he called it his “Zen time.” He loved to golf and be outside in nature. When he could no longer golf, he had it on the television every single Sunday. He enjoyed photography and it was always present in his favorite pastimes. He was an ATV enthusiast and a motorhome enthusiast. He adopted three beagles as puppies throughout his lifetime, Mason Dixon, Shotwell, and Traber. He took in two feral cats in Galena, Nike, and Coco. A year ago, his doctors asked him to start working on his bucket list. Initially, in pure Dan fashion, he said there was not anything on his bucket list. He had lived his life on his terms and there was nothing left to do yet. A week later he proclaimed that we had lots of puppies, dogs, and cats but we had never had a kitten. The next day he adopted a little angel kitten from Mineral Point, WI. He named her Beasie O’Brien after his great Grandmother from Waukon, Iowa. The love they shared was beautiful over the last year. He loved cars, all music, bowling, softball, tractors, aviation, technology, cameras, gadgets, and computers. For those that knew him, he was always showing his love by researching the best car or upgrading our phones and apps, researching new computers, as well as numerous other creative things to enhance our life. When we worked in Palo Alto, he went to the Apple Headquarters in person and bought the very first Apple computer (and frankly every once since!). He was wondering for months about what he had just purchased and that love for computers served him well in his lifetime. He was a problem solver and a gadget guy for sure! It brought him great joy. And he was so smart to understand all of it. He recently proclaimed that he was a Brewers fan. He was a lifetime Hawkeyes fan. He loved gardening, especially tomatoes and peppers. Dan enjoyed cooking and especially grilling and smoking. We called him the Grill Master. He loved Mexican food. He loved popcorn and we teased him because he ate it with a spoon! He was so delighted that Kloe loved popcorn too! Dan also had a keen desire for adventure. Dan traveled many times to the Hawaiian Islands, Mexico, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Aruba. One of his favorite memories was when Mark and Andrew joined us in Mexico and Maui. Also, he took his mom and dad to Maui for two weeks after they retired. Andrew also joined us for a trip to Puerto Rico. Dan caught a huge Marlin in Hawaii, and it took him two months to come back to earth with that wonder of nature. Dan traveled all over the country and connected to travel like oxygen. He just loved to explore new places, new food, and new cultures. Dan’s favorite spiritual places were Maui, Lake Tahoe, Isla Mujeres, Mexico, Yosemite, Decorah, Iowa, Napa Valley, Muir Woods, Colorado, Half Moon Bay, Spring Green, WI, and Thunder Bay Falls in Galena, IL. The family cabin getaways that we took to Decorah, Lanesboro, LeClaire, Mineral Point, Four Mounds, Backbone State Park, and many others made him so happy. He was also delighted that adventure would soon be a tradition for his children and grandchildren. He loved that they had been bitten by the travel bug too. Dan almost always and naturally lived in the moment. He strongly preferred to take one day at a time. He was fearless and independent. Dan was adventurous and ambitious. He was very friendly and enjoyed the presence of others, but he was also very private and loved to spend time alone in nature and with his family and pets. Dan was curious and calm and approached everything in life that way. He had a very lively sense of humor too. For those that loved Dan, we were so appreciative of his kindness, easy-going and fun-loving, generous free spirit. Dan deeply loved his family. It was his honor to help his parents in their senior years. He would do anything for you. Dan’s engaging personality and his kindness were hallmarks of a life well lived.
Dan wishes to thank his family, friends, and acquaintances who so lovingly and uniquely enriched his life. Dan also thanks his father for being such a wonderful influence in his life, his athletic coaches, numerous spiritual advisors, and one of his first employers, Bud Rasmussen. The influence and wisdom of these great men made all the difference. Dan would also like to thank Chris Kerkel for his special friendship. Chris was Dan’s tried and loyal friend in his life and he cherished their time together. They golfed every moment they could while Dan was able and one of his favorite lifetime memories was attending a Green Bay Packer game with Chris and the gang at Lambeau Field. The Furlong Funeral Chapel is assisting the family with arrangements. Dan has requested that we not hold formal community services but honor his life by holding a loved one a little closer, loving the earth a little more, or offering generous kindness to a senior, a child, or an animal. However, if you honor him, please honor him with love. Finally, our family would like to thank all the healthcare partners that helped care for him. The family is forever grateful to Dr. Michael Wells, Dr. Ram, Dr. Justin Risma, Dr. Chris and Ben Lundell for a lifetime of care. More intensely over the last 3 years, our family would like to thank Dr. Eric Engelman, et al, Mercy Cancer Center in Dubuque who helped us in the early days of his lymphoma journey, Jamestown Fire Department and Dickeyville Rescue Squad and EMS, and First Responders and the entire Southwest Health team in Platteville, WI. Every single person helped Dan immensely and neither he nor we will ever forget your kindness and expertise. Our family would like to thank Dr. Priyanka Pophali et al at the University of Wisconsin Hospital for their heroic care in helping Dan try to survive aggressive, high-grade B-cell Lymphoma. Dr. Pophali’s entire team was exceptional, and Dan appreciated their extreme and compassionate care. Dr. Pophali stood by Dan during his intensive Car-T cell transplant in February as well as naming him the first-ever UW patient who received his latest bi-phasic immunotherapy that was just recently approved by the FDA. Her compassion and expertise that she so generously offered will never be forgotten. Dan trusted her completely. Part of Dan’s legacy will be the extreme depth of character, courage, trust, and kindness that he demonstrated during his journey. We know that the medical learnings from his many advanced treatments will benefit countless others and save many lives. So, for now, and until we meet again…rest in peace, Dan Nissen. We love you with all our hearts and cannot wait to see you again. It gives us such great peace to know that you are joyful and healthy again and reunited with your parents, and pets, and blissfully in the arms of Jesus.