An individual of huge stature came through twice for the good of the Chicago Headline Club: Arthur C. Nielsen Jr., who died Oct. 3 at 92. Each time, his gifts were because of friendship begun as a teenager with Les Brownlee, CHC president in 1989-90.
A CHC loyalist throughout his career at his TV ratings standard-bearer, A.C. Nielsen, Art stepped forward when asked. He donated $15,000 toward the Les Brownlee Journalism Series in the early 2000’s. And, last year, he gave $5,000 to kick-start the Les Brownlee Scholarships. Until this year, he was a regular at fundraisers for the CHC Foundation, each hosted by Les’s widow, Priscilla Ruth MacDougall, after Les’s death in 2005.
Art and Les met at New Trier High School and together attended the University of Wisconsin before Les enlisted in the Army to fight in World War II. In a letter that came with the 2010 check, he wrote, “Good luck in keeping the Headline Club going and remembering my dear friend, Lester Brownlee.”
In Les Brownlee: the Autobiography of a Pioneering African-American Journalist, Les wrote: “Nielsen made himself my friend after I stopped a big bully from picking on him. Art, in fact, called himself my ‘little brother.'” Art, the Illinois Men’s Singles tennis champion, coached Les in tennis, so well that Les won a tournament. Art got Les a job waiting tables in his college fraternity house and tried without success to get him accepted as its first black member.
Nielsen had Parkinson’s disease for several years preceding his death from pneumonia following years of Parkinson’s disease. His family was with him, and said he died peacefully.
A funeral service will be at 3 p.m. Sat. Oct. 22 at Christ Church, 784 Sheridan Road, Winnetka.
Nielsen and his late wife, Patricia, had three children: Arthur Charles III, John Christopher and Elizabeth Kingsbury (Cocciarolli), and seven grandchildren. All survive him.