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Patients mourn loss of Provo pediatrician who died suddenly

By Carole Mikita | Posted - Mar. 20, 2012 at 11:04 p.m.


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PROVO — Greg Nielsen was known as the really tall doctor with the very gentle touch.

"Greg's patients loved him and he loved them, and he was really passionate about trying to make our office a place that they would feel comfortable coming (to) and would want to come back," said Dr. Jeff Jensen, Nielsen's partner at Utah Valley Pediatrics.

Nielsen died March 3, just days after a staph infection was diagnosed. During treatment he had a fatal stroke. Even ill, he spoke with colleagues about his patients.

"He didn't tell me he was sick, and that turned out to be the last time that I talked to him," Jensen said.

At 6 feet 8 inches tall, Nielsen's examining room tables were much higher than those of other doctors, and his stool was adjusted to the lowest level.

Shannon Nelson was his nurse for a year and says his patients couldn't wait to see him.

"(I remember) this little child, about 1 year old, with developmental issues, on his hands and knees crawling as fast as he could to get to Dr. Nielson. He just would scramble into his arms," Nelson said.

Born and raised in Provo, Nielsen was graduated from Timpview High School and BYU. His lifelong friend, Robert Spencer, describes him as gifted.

As a musician, Nielsen played the French horn beautifully. He was a bright scholar who also loved sports, basketball and skiing. He was sometimes full of mischief.

"(We did) a lot of toilet papering, but we always felt guilty about it," Spencer recalled. "So we'd go back and help the people we toilet papered clean up, and that was the kind of person Greg was."

His devotion to his children, Spencer says, made Nielsen a good doctor.

"When the kids found out you were doing this (report), they wanted people to know he was just an incredible dad," Spencer said.

Nelson spent the day Tuesday canceling some of Nielsen's appointments, letting his patients know their doctor had passed away.

"Multiple times a day, I'll still see one of his patients in clinic, and I have to go compose myself a little bit because it's still so fresh," Jensen said.

A pediatrician can become a member of many families. Children and their parents in the Provo area are mourning the loss.

"He was an amazing doctor and a great guy," Rachel Dunston wrote on the comment board of his obituary. "He was involved in saving my little boy's life twice. We are forever grateful."

Veronica Villacreses wrote, "Gavin and Maddix wanted you to know he was their favorite doctor because he was tall and strong and no one else can make their owies better like he can."

"I know his presence, love, care, smile and vast knowledge of ways to best treat my children will leave a huge void in our lives," Emily Page wrote.

One life touched so many others. Greg Nielsen made you want to be better, say friends and colleagues.

To Becky Nielsen and their four children, he was the best husband and father, forever a shining example of a man who loved life and them.

A charity fund* has been set up for anyone who would like to help the Nielsen family with funeral expenses. Interested parties are asked to make their donation to the Gregory W. Nielsen Memorial Fund the America Bank of Commerce in Provo.

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*ksl.com has not verified the accuracy of the information provided with respect to the account nor does ksl.com assure that the monies deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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Carole Mikita

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