On April 1, 2013 Jim Neilson, ex clan commissioner and life time member of Clan Mackay, crossed over the River Styx. His strong heart, which had carried on at an irregular beat for over 20 years, finally gave up. He was just two weeks shy of his 90th birthday.
Jim first became active with Clan Mackay in the early 1980s when he met Barbara Fanshier at the Santa Rosa games, in Santa Rosa, CA. When she learned in the fall of 1985 that he was moving to northern Colorado the next January, she convinced him to represent the Clan Mackay at Scottish games in Colorado and the surrounding states. This he did. Beginning with very few resources, he compiled a clan history to sell at the clan tent, he gathered materials, flags, banners, and everything else needed to man a tent at the games. That first year he gathered a corps of loyal clan members and over the years they built the presence of Clan Mackay so that it was well represented at all the Colorado games and games in New Mexico and Wyoming. His ready smile, friendly ways, and clan knowledge readily won him friends and honors at the games.
Not only was he active with clan activities, but so was the family. His son Alex played the pipes and his daughter Kate played the snare drums in the Colorado Youth Pipe Band. His son Linn competed in youth Scottish athletics. Scottish games became the family outings.
When his health no longer allowed him to undertake the duties of clan commissioner, he had cohorts that were willing and capable of taking up the banner. Today Clan Mackay is strong and well represented at any game in the Rocky Mountain Region.
Jim will be sadly missed by his family and friends. He is survived by his wife Dianne and children: Jana Knezovich (John), Laura Watson (Ken), Heather Westlund (Bruce), Bruce Neilson (Sherry), Ian, Linn (Chelsea), Alex, and Kat; plus 9 grandchildren and 2 great granddaughters.
Photo: Jim (on the right) hosting a Clan Mackay event in 1999.