On January 3, 2022, Angels took Roger Garth Nilsen by the hand and led him to Heaven’s gates.
He passed peacefully surrounded by his daughter, son and wife where God welcomed him home.
Roger lived a remarkable and amazing life and was an inspiration to many. He was born in Port Gamble, WA on July 19, 1940 to Carl Oscar Nilsen and Irene Mildred Haller Nilsen, the elder son of The Brothers. Roger grew up in Kingston and from an early age worked with his family in their businesses, best known in Poulsbo as North Kitsap Appliance and later to become known simply as The Brothers.
They moved to Poulsbo in 1958 where he graduated from North Kitsap High School. He studied electronics and refrigeration at Edison Technical School in Seattle, WA developing skills that would benefit the family business. Roger could fix almost anything and was always curious about how things worked. He worked for a short period of time for the Washington State Ferries, below decks. He received his welding certification from Olympic College in Bremerton, WA developing skills that would help him with his job at Fred Hill Materials.
He ended his working career in 1999 at Fred Hill Materials, Shine Pit and moved with his wife Becky to Mesa, Arizona. He married Marcia M. Carter and together they had two children, their daughter, Joan and their son, Brian. Although they later divorced, their legacy lives on in their commitment to family and the values that they instilled in their children. Roger married Becky L. Herbert in November of 1979, his wife of 42 years.
Roger was dedicated to the service of others. He belonged to community organizations such as The Sons of Norway, Poulsbo Lodge and the Poulsbo Jaycee’s among many others. He served the North Kitsap community as a volunteer Firefighter in Poulsbo for 18 years and retired in 1980 at the rank of Deputy Chief. He served his country in the US Coast Guard Reserves from 1961 to 1969 winning recognition as a Boat Crew Winner X4 – 1962.
He served briefly as a Commissioner for the Port of Poulsbo. In Arizona, he participated in many community volunteer events supporting The Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Feed my Starving Children, The Kiwanis Club of Phoenix, The Phoenix Zoo and The Assistance League of Phoenix to name a few.
A talented athlete and avid outdoorsman, he excelled at many sports related activities. Whether it was a league championship shooting pool, playing slow pitch with the Poulsbo Merchants, coaching the women’s slow pitch team at Kitsap Federal Credit Union, bowling with his grandfather, skiing, hiking, hunting, fishing, golfing or playing tennis; Roger would keep at it until he mastered the sport. Roger loved to ride motorcycles! Most notably, he was a member of The Pacific Northwest Trials Association where he won the Washington State Championship in 1974. A restored version of his Bultaco motorcycle and his championship trophy are on display at The Brother’s Powersports in Bremerton. He made the journey from Phoenix to Mazatlan, Mexico with a group of local businessmen from Kitsap County for more than 8 years to enjoy bike week in Mexico riding his Honda VTX 1800.
He was passionate about playing tennis and played at least 4 times a week where he was ranked by the USTA as a 4.0 player. A very humble guy, the only trophy he kept is the one on display with his Bultaco motorcycle at The Brother’s Powersports and his special belt buckle from the US Coast Guard. Roger contracted the West Nile virus in July of 2019 spending 47 days in the hospital and an acute care facility. The virus almost claimed his life. It is through his journey back to health and mobility that Roger inspired so many across the country. His simple philosophy of trying to just do and be a little better each day helped him conquer the ravages of the virus. Thanks to his team of doctors, physical therapists and his family he regained his health and was looking forward to playing golf with family and going hunting with his son and grandsons. He had a very large FaceBook following of friends and family who encouraged and inspired him. He looked forward to reading their comments every morning. He told Becky that he had to keep at it because he couldn’t let all of those people praying for him down. At 79 to 81 years young, his supporters enjoyed watching his progress and the video’s of his colorful language and self-depreciating humor as he learned to walk again, drive his truck and regain his independence. He inspired his FaceBook friends with his “don’t ever give up, don’t feel sorry for yourself – it’s a waste of time and you can accomplish anything if you just try” attitude and his joy in living each day to its fullest. Roger loved to have fun and found humor in just about everything.
His lasting legacy will live on in the hearts of his family and friends. He is survived by his wife Becky, daughter Joan, son Brian, grandsons Miles and Carter, granddaughters Kennedy, Talia and Lindsey, great grandchildren Cohen, Macey and Theo, son-in-law Rodrigo, brothers Bruce (Lynda) and Jeff (Pam), his nieces Michele, Lesley and Morgan and nephew Chase along with many cousins in Washington and throughout Norway. Roger carried the following quotes in his wallet as daily reminders: “Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” – T.S. Elliot “Be curious, not judgmental” – Walt Whitman.
A Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, July 16, 2022 at 1:00 p.m.
Kitsap Golf and Country Club, 2885 Golf Club Hill Road, Bremerton, WA 98312 www.kitsapgolfcc.com
In lieu of flowers, please consider a tax deductible donation to The Poulsbo Historical Society & Museums (www.poulsbohistory.com) or Kitsap County Stampede Top Hands 5205 1st Street, Bremerton, WA 98312 by check or money order.