Dr. Richard Nielsen first read about the Kensington Rune Stone by reading Hjalmar Holand’s book Westward from Vinland in 1944 when a student in the 5th grade in Wilson Elementary School in Tulare in the San Joaquin Valley of California. Nielsen is a grandson of four immigrants from Denmark and Holand’s book enthralled him. He asked his Mother to teach him Danish, but she said that Danish was not an important language and to learn Spanish instead.
After graduating from Santa Cruz High School on the north side of Monterey bay in California in 1951, he spent four years at the U. S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. The Coast Guard sent the newly minted ensign to three years of icebreaker duty in Alaska and then to a year of weather-ship duty out of Honolulu, Hawaii.
Nielsen was assigned for two years of study to become a Naval Architect and Marine Engineer and Mathematician at the University of Michigan in 1961. He prospered at Michigan and following a year of icebreaker duty on the Great Lakes was sent by the U. S. Coast Guard to obtain a Doctor of Technology degree in Ship Structures at the University of Denmark in Copenhagen. Now Danish became an important language to know. He received this degree in 1965 and became the most educated officer in all the armed services according to the Navy Times. The Coast Guard Polar Class of ice breaker designs followed his grillage beam design solutions. After thirty years of service in the Arctic and Antarctica, these icebreakers are now seeing their final days of service.
Dr. Nielsen is still an active consulting engineer in the Oil and Gas business in Houston, Texas and continues to study as time permits the origin of the Kensington Rune Stone. He will be on a nationwide tour with Prof. Henrik Williams this fall.
See Prof. James Frankki’s interview on his research beginning from 1985 on the Kensington Rune Stone found on this posting.
Personal aside: Following duty in Coast Guard headquarters in Washington, D. C., I worked as an engineer all over the world in the Oil and Gas business. I has been in well over 125 counties and lived for lengthy times in Lebanon, Paraguay, England, New Zealand, Australia, Denmark, Norway and Spain. My six years in Denmark and Norway on consulting business enabled me to study runes, learn to read Swedish and Norwegian, and perfect my knowledge of Scandinavian history. Yes, my Montana born Mother, Dagmar Christine Nielsen, got to see me in Denmark, the land of her parents that she had often heard about but never seen, and admit to me that the Danish language was a good idea after all. But her Danish dialect was from Jutland, a dialect distained in Copenhagen, so perhaps learning the Kings Danish in Copenhagen from the beginning was not such a bad thing. I am proud to say that three of my five children speak Danish. My two sons, the Nielsen brothers, Thomas Mark and Richard Tage, and my daughter Anne Maria Hopkins speak Danish expertly and quickly grasped from that I certainly did not. My oldest daughter Deborah Ann Nielsen and youngest daughter Kari Louisa Weiman are my chief cheer leaders on runic studies and are undeterred by my lousy accent when using Danish.
I wish to be known as an investigator who strove to find the truth about the runic inscriptions found in North America and who would not brook myth-o-mania and pointless speculation. This meant it was necessary to work with the Swedish experts and accomplish things along academic lines. My work with Prof. Henrik Williams is the best thing I have accomplished for advancing research on the Kensington Rune Stone of Minnesota, the Heavener Rune Stone of Oklahoma, the Narragansett Stone of Rhode Island and the Spirit Pond Rune Stones of Maine.
Dr. Richard Nielsen passed away on July 3rd, 2016