While only 5’- 9 ½” tall and barely 180 lbs wet, there has never been a Giant of a man quite like Brian Clark Nielson. Everyone who knew him will adamantly tell you what an incredible privilege you missed to be someone he called “friend.” Brian was remarkably loyal, utterly respectable, and a man of his word. He worked every day to create something, whether it was a new relationship, an astounding memory, or something he carved out of metal. Few people will be able to accomplish what Brian did in his short 67 years here on Earth. He was a man that made serving others his life’s mission, and was constantly giving of his time and talents to pursue that goal.

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Born on May 18th, 1953, Brian grew up in the quaint farm town of Worland, Wyoming, where it was instilled at an early age to not complain or curse, to work hard for what you wanted, and to do everything to support your family. He was an extremely adventurous, curious kid, constantly tinkering with machinery, and even credited himself for tearing apart basic lawn equipment as early as age 4 (it would be a few years later that he would learn how to put it all back together).

In pursuing that passion, Brian’s adventure took him to Orem, UT where he attended the Utah Technical College. He fell in love with machining and metal work, and his talent, precision, skill and attention to detail leveraged him a successful career at Geneva Steel. He would later become what he referred to as “self-unemployed” in founding Wilderness Design and Manufacturing, Inc, which he owned and operated for over 30 years.

It was also in school that Brian met and fell for another love… his soulmate and sweetheart Judy Kaye. They were sealed in the Salt Lake City Temple in November of 1973, and eventually grew their family to include 2 beautiful daughters. Often referred to as “his girls,” there was nothing that man wouldn’t do for his little family. That Giant of A Man Loved Them Fiercely. He was a spectacular provider, an honorable husband, and the pedigree of a father that very few get the joy of being raised by.

Brian’s children often attributed him with being incredibly patient, gentle, fun, energetic, nurturing, and rarely remember times when they were scolded. Having only girls did not stop him from teaching them all he could about machining, welding, car restoration and maintenance, outdoor survival, and how important taking care of the planet and the people you love. He was always ready, at the drop of a hat, to help them with a project, no matter how big or small. Those same qualities continued right on through to when he became a grandfather! Brian loved his grandchildren with everything he had, just melting anytime they were around. He would stop everything to greet them, spend time with them, and make them smile.

In his professional career, Brian was an irreplaceable asset to those around him. It’s not everyday you get the opportunity to work with someone who is part metal worker, part fabricator, part inventor, part mad scientist! If it could be bolted, bored, carved, constructed, cut, fabricated, glued, ground, leveled, lifted, mounted, moulded, measured, nailed, welded, painted, or pressed into any shape using any material, Brian knew just how to do it in the most efficient way possible.

His industry adventures took him to the tops of mountains, welding high up on ski lifts, to the middle of the desert for high-speed vehicle crash testing. He helped construct large windmills, fabricated more efficient steam turbines, machined parts for high performance race engines, and even worked on solid carbon nano-technology for military body armor. He was pretty proud of the fact that he’s been listed on more than a few patents for his endeavors. Brian’s motto was to “Always build it 3 times stronger than it needs to be,” which didn’t just apply to the things he fabricated, but to all facets of his life, particularly his personal and family relationships.

Brian loved serving his neighbors and church family, spending thousands of hours helping the scouting program, setting up everything from zip lines to rappelling stations, snow shelters to cookouts for jamborees. He’s prepared thousands of meals for events and church gatherings, including the annual neighborhood “Salmon Fry,” and always provided the root beer for the Halloween party. He and Judy served as ward librarians and Activities Committee members. He was also a phone call away from being the local handyman for everyone in the neighborhood. Even though he was a man of few words, he rarely had an unkind thing to say about others, and loved people from all walks of life.

Brian had an incredible reverence for the It don't get done if I don't go do it! - Brian outdoors, making time to spend with his family on adventures in places like Yellowstone, Alaska, Colorado, California, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, The Grand Canyon, Havasupai, and even The Bahamas! He also spent countless summers skiing and boating in Lake Powell with some of the people he cherished most. And he especially loved animals, having easily 20 - 30 different pets throughout his life! Brian was genuinely the greatest guy you could ever hope to know.

The phrase “Jack of all trades, Master of none” didn’t apply to Brian at all… because he was a Master of Everything! Despite being regularly called “Einstein” in reference to the volumes of knowledge his brain possessed… when he smiled… you could forever see that adventurous, curious little boy at his core. While he accomplished in-numerous remarkable things throughout his lifetime, he was one of the most humble, kind, caring, salt of the earth individuals to ever grace this world.

He never stopped dreaming. He never stopped creating. He never stopped learning. He never stopped smiling. He never stopped teaching. He never stopped building. He never stopped loving. Until he finally did…

After vigorously fighting through 3 previous cardiac episodes to be here with those he cherished, it would be that magnificently loving heart that would ultimately give all that it could. On September 4th, 2020, Brian passed from this life in the only way he would have allowed it: in his home with his sweetheart Judy firmly at his side.

Preceded In Death by both of his parents Max and Marion, and his sister Christine, and his Brother-In-Law Dennis.

Survived by the Love of His Life, Judy - his two beautiful daughters Rafael (Craig) and Vanessa (Brady), and his darling little grandchildren Rainier & Riott. He has also left behind his sister Maxine (Glen), his brothers Bruce (Claudia) and Kent (Nona), Judy’s brother Brett (Debbie), as well as countless nieces, nephews, and their families. And hundreds and hundreds of friends, who considered him their family too.

To quote the greatest man we were privileged to know one last time: “It don't get done if I don’t go do it...” and on to his new adventure he goes. We know if he’s not there waiting to greet us when we ourselves pass on, we’re in the wrong place! We will forever look forward to seeing you again.

Rest In Peace, Ironman.

We will have a Celebration of Life in the mountains, as Brian would have wanted. The event will take place on Saturday, with a small gathering of family and friends.

In lieu of flowers, Brian would have loved you to donate to your favorite charity, or take your loved ones on your own adventure. Much Love.


  • Survived By
  • Judy, Wife
  • Bruce, Brother
  • Claudia, Sister-in-Law
  • Maxine, Sister
  • Glen, Brother-in-Law
  • Kent, Brother
  • Nona, Sister-in-Law
  • Bret, Brother-in-Law
  • Debbie, Sister-in-Law
  • Rafael, Daughter
  • Craig, Son-in-Law
  • Vanessa, Daughter
  • Brady, Son-in-Law
  • Rainier, Grandchildren
  • Riott, Grandchildren
  • Preceded in Death By
  • Max & Marion, Parents
  • Christine, Sister
  • Dennis, Brother-in-Law

Life Story Info


Brady McDonald

Post Date

Sep 09, 2020

Personal Info


Worland, Wyoming, United States


Orem, Utah, United States



Worked For

  • Wilderness Design and Manufacturing, Inc.
  • Geneva Steel
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Is Uncle Brian dead, already? Bridgette asked herself. She felt a silent wail begin somewhere in her mind. 

Bridgette exhaled, and tears leaked from the front of her eyes. She hated thinking about happening next to her dad's absence. More of an unbelievable shock. Thoughts repeat inside her head, how Judy, Rafael, and Vanessa feelings:

It's ok to miss him.

You are not

Ready to let him go.

You want to spend

More time with him.

You wouldn't feel remorse.

He knew you still

Love him.

It's ok to miss him

Every minute of every day

Because you will always love him.

He was loved.

He had a beautiful life.

Bridgette Nielson , Lehi, UT, US Sep 23, 2020

I made up a list of over 30 events that Brian and I shared over the years (starting with my earliest memories with him at age 4 and me at age 3 in Casper, Wyoming). With little thought, I could double that.

Since we were 'almost twins' (just a little more than a year apart), we did a lot together. He was my best friend (and, at rare times, my competition/adversary). When I came to BYU in 1972 he was my roommate and advocate and continued from that point on. I believe he continues in that role now.

Looking for the positive and always ways to make the impossible, possible.

The song from 'Muppet Christmas Carol' - 'God Bless Us All' comes to mind:

Life is full of sweet surprises

Every day's a gift

The sun comes up and I can feel it lift my spirit

Fills me up with laughter

Fills me up with song

I look into the eyes of love and know that I belong. . .

I think this tune exemplifies Brian's appreciation of life, laughter, and love.

God Bless You my dear brother and friend! We will feel of your love and confidence from now until we meet again. . .

Kent ('the little brother') Sep 20, 2020

What a legacy of hospitality, friendship, good cooking high adventure and neighborliness! I've enjoyed "The Beat Bus;" delicious salmon; amazing zip line rides, and years of quiet neighborliness. Thanks, Brian, for the kindness and adventure you always share. Comfort and love to your family.

Dianne Nielsen , Orem, UT, US Sep 15, 2020

Truly one of a kind-

I'm a better person because I had the privilege to have known and worked with Brian for the last 30+ years and I will cherish the many memories we shared with each other from crash testing, to building snow caves and zip-lines, to trips to Lake Powell. One of the most gifted, knowledgeable, humble, selfless individuals I've ever known. If you needed something done, Brian was the one to ask, because he would figure out a way to get it done. He has left an indelible print on our lives and we will miss "Cooter" dearly. Goodbye for now dear friend, until we meet again-

Alan Asay , Lindon, UT, US Sep 13, 2020

One of the Five Amigos

Pat Ormond , Orem, UT, US Sep 13, 2020

I learned to love, respect and appreciate Brian as a friend, neighbor and business associate over approximately 40 years. He will be greatly missed. The "Brianism" I've quoted numerous times over the years is "if it ain't going to fly, make it heavy." He's now soaring to new heights with a light heart!

Karl Jacobson , Spanish Fork, UT, US Sep 12, 2020

Oh Brian you will be missed. I have known you for 30 years and I will never forget you and the influence you had on me in my life.

In the words of Brian,


Scott & Sharon Haines , Orem, UT, US Sep 11, 2020

I worked with Brian and loved talking with him about family and life. He was such a proud Grandpa. I was very saddened to hear of his passing. He will be missed but remembered.

Sonie Rockwell , Draper, UT, US Sep 11, 2020

A fine man, gone far too soon.

Gay Wyn Quance Sep 10, 2020

As a kid I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time at the Nielson home. I have nothing but fond memories there. Brian had a way of making you feel special. I specifically remember one snowy morning I came to walk with Vanessa to school. The snow was so deep and what normally would have been a miserable walk turned into a wild ride on the four wheeler. He could have just drove us in the car but instead we giggled and screamed the whole way. He seemed to always make just a little extra effort and that made a big difference.

Layna Sep 10, 2020

So sorry to hear this sad sad news. Brian was a uniquely talented individual. A skilled machinist and welder, yes, but so much more. We spent so many hours resolving the problems of the world, laughing at the antics of kids on various camping trips, commiserating with one another about times gone by. Always light hearted, always ready to accept an environment as a challenge and create a circumstance that bettered everyone around him.

He was a real friend. I will miss him.

Mike , South Jordan, UT, US Sep 10, 2020

Brian was a good man, I work with his brother Kent. Brian will be missed, my thoughts and prayers are with your family at this time.

David Snyder , Orem, UT, US Sep 10, 2020

We love Brian Nielson. I will always cherish the memories of countless hours in the mountains with him, setting up ziplines, building snow caves, and laughing together. He was always the quiet, but consistent influence behind so many of the things we did with the Scouts, including coaching our son, Christian, on his Eagle project. Brian was a true example of Christlike service. There were numerous times that he stopped at our home to offer help to "the mechanically deprived" man of the Tyson home. Janell and I will miss his smile--and his kind, caring, and encouraging attitude.

Rich & Janell Tyson , Orem, UT, US Sep 10, 2020

He was a truly great man and One of the most fun people I know. Love to Aunt Judy, Rafael, Craig, Vanessa, Brady, Rainy, and Riott.

Meg Graf , Salt Lake City, UT, US Sep 09, 2020


  • 1990
  • 1995

    PeekABoo Slot Canyon, Young Men Trip, Hole in the Rock Road,

  • 2000
  • 2000

    Waking up from a sleepover I’d hear Brian sing “On Top of Old Smokey” to the dogs while he gave them a bath. I remember telling myself back in high school that I was going to be like that when I had my own dog. You better believe I sing to her every bath!

  • Mar 2001

    Brian helping me fix the frame for my 1956 F-100

  • 2007

    Brian helping out with the Scouts

  • 2008

    My Father Lee Morris was Brian's Machine Shop Instructor at UTC. He was instrumental in helping to design and build gavels used as awards. I had the privilege of working with Brian at Wilderness Design From 2008-2012. He will be missed. Thank you Brian!

  • 2010
  • Sep 23, 2015

    Brian, with his superb sense of humor, did exquisitely precise work. He helped make success possible. He will be missed.

  • 2020
  • 2020

    I work with Brian's brother, Kent. Brian would visit Kent at the office from time to time. Over the years Brian got to know most of us. It was an honor to know Brian personally. Brian and his visits to the FSI office will be missed!