Bill was born on Jan. 19, 1945, in Cody, as the fifth and final child of Glenn E. and Olive Wood Nielson. His genius for fixing anything was evident by age 5 when he took apart an electric train he received for Christmas because it would not “puff smoke.” His parents were distraught to see the expensive new train in pieces, but young Bill handily put it back together — producing a train that ran better than before and puffed as it was supposed to.
As a teenager, Bill worked at KODI, developing a rich baritone voice that he used throughout his life in public speaking and in singing for Cody Chorale and church choirs. Bill graduated from Cody High School in 1963 and then attended Brigham Young University, receiving A’s in classes that interested him and earning a B.S. in accounting in 1969.
After college, Bill worked in Pocatello, Idaho, as the manager of the Pocatello Industrial Park before returning to Cody to work with family members in Nielson Enterprises, Inc. From a list of varied business ventures, he found great satisfaction working with two partners, Jerry Payne and Craig Dansie, to grow Y-TEX Corporation into a strong local employer in the agricultural industry.
The Cody community was one of Bill’s loves. He was an announcer for the annual Fourth of July parade and belonged to the Cody Rotary Club for many years. He served on the Cody Planning, Zoning and Adjustment Board from 2004-2011. He was well known in both his public and private life as a man of integrity and honesty.
From 1965-1967, Bill served in the British Mission, beginning a lifetime of dedicated service to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served in the LDS Church in many capacities, including bishop, stake executive secretary, and counselor to Stake President Fred Hopkin. At the time of his death, he was serving as Temple President of the LDS Billings, Montana Temple.
A friend once said Bill “worked harder than any man” he knew, and anyone who spent a day branding cows, moving irrigation pipe or bucking hay with Bill would agree. He was rarely on time for dinner since he believed one should finish the job first.
Bill relished each day of work, though he embraced his Wyoming-bred love of playing in the outdoors with nearly the same intensity. He won snowmobile, motorcycle, and car races as a young man, and he continued to out-ride, out-camp, out-fish, and out-hike much younger companions into the spring of this year.
Bill married Doris Yvonne Hutchings in the Oakland, California LDS Temple on Sept. 6, 1968. The beautiful California girl adjusted to Bill’s Wyoming lifestyle of ranch work and motor sports to join her husband in their primary goal of putting family first. Early in their marriage, they made a conscious decision to spend time together as a family. For a busy man who worked and played hard, the solution was easy: teach his eight children to work and play beside him. His daughters and son were most often found with him, be that in a field moving cows, hoeing rows in their huge garden, speaking in church meetings, or racing their snowmobiles side-by-side with their dad.
He is survived by his wife, Yvonne Nielson; his eight children and their spouses, Shanley and Geoffrey Marchese of Houston, Texas; Kylie and Steven Turley of Provo, Utah; Jadey and Scott Grimmett of Idaho Falls, Idaho; Tally and Brad Payne of Cody; Tandy and Jeff Sutton of Ririe, Idaho; Brindey and Matt Lennon of Driggs, Idaho; Glenn and Erica Nielson of Cody; and Kinsey and Brett Christensen of Provo, Utah; and 30 beloved grandchildren. He is also survived by siblings Margaret Ruth Bullock, Jim Nielson, Joanne Livingston and Anna Marie Hales.
Funeral services were held on Monday, July 16 at the Cody LDS Stake Center at 1407 Heart Mountain Street in Cody.