David Nielsen, 49

MARYSVILLE, CA - NPPA member David Forest Nielsen, a photojournalist who nurtured family while eternalizing images of Sacramento Valley history, died on Monday, November 5.

"Photojournalism lost a true hero of an editor. He touched the lives of so many photographers over the years and made the paper as a whole a better place," Appeal-Democrat staff photojournalist Chris Kaufman said.

Nielsen was born December 22, 1957 in Stockton to Donald and Marti Nielsen. He was at his home in Yuba City, where he lived with his wife Jackie and two children, when his battle with colon cancer ended.

Nielsen attended Stockton schools, graduating from Stagg High School in 1976. He completed his bachelor's degree in journalism in 1981 at California State University, Fresno.

Nielsen went to work for the Appeal-Democrat newspaper in Marysville in 1981. He became the chief photographer in 1986 — the same year he married Jackie — before becoming photo editor in 1995.

Nielsen's work at the Appeal-Democrat explored a wide variety of experience, ranging from athletic triumphs to crises such as the Yuba County floods of 1986 and 1997.

Nielsen's unique vision won him many awards. Honors came from the California Newspaper Publishers Association, the Associated Press News Executives Council and others.

His work as a mentor also gave his name a far reach. Former staffers have gone on to win major awards and work for world-class publications such as The New York Times.

Despite his achievements, Nielson preferred to celebrate the fortunes of friends, co-workers and family members. He filled his spare time with his wife and children, and on bike trails throughout the region.

Nielsen is survived by his parents, his wife, his daughter Hannah, 15, his son Austin, 10, his brother Alan, 45, of Acampo, and 11 nieces and nephews.

Memorial services are set for Friday, November 9, at 4 p.m. at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Yuba City. A reception will take place following the service.

A story in the Appeal-Democrat, "His Life Was In Pictures," tells the story of a man who loved photography, newspapers, and his family and friends.