On a bright, clear morning in Scottsdale that was so dry the desert sky couldn’t conjure up a cloud—let alone a tear—a giant has fallen. Councilman Tony Nelssen passed away at his home this morning, after a brief and valiant battle with cancer. Even after Tony told us about his diagnosis, I could not bring myself to believe it was possible he might not survive. It is difficult to imagine Scottsdale without Tony.
If anyone deserved the description “larger than life,” it was Tony. Had he lived a thousand years ago, he would have been a Viking warrior. Tony was a big man, but because of his quiet presence you would never know that if you had not stood next to him or shaken his hand. That stoic Scandinavian nature did not incline him to talk of how he suffered with arthritis in the last few years, nor the pain of his disease for the last few weeks.
Always a voice for the residents and the natural beauty of our community, Tony fought for us for twenty-five years. With almost a century-and-a-half of family history in the Valley, Tony’s legacy knowledge of this area was unmatched and irreplaceable. Tony never sought fame or personal gain from his position. He sacrificed thousands of hours of his time to try to keep Scottsdale special.
Tony also worked tirelessly to help others see what he valued. As a photographer, Tony tried to capture the essence and beauty of our community to share with those who could not experience it directly, and for those who might have otherwise missed it. As a photography instructor, he tried to help each student interpret that beauty in their own way.
Tony’s family was with him this morning, along with two childhood friends who’d come to help during Tony’s convalescence. Tony’s wife Marg, son Ian, and daughter Hannah are grateful for all your support over the years, and during this trying time.
I miss my friend. Adios, Tony.
Arrangements are pending.