Howard R. (Skip) Neilson '59

Howard R. (Skip) Neilson '59✦ - 1914 Legacy Society
Elizabeth Katz

Detroit Country Day Class of 1959 graduate supports athletics through memorial bequest

Funding helps current and future DCDS students

Like so many of Detroit Country Day School’s alumni, the late Howard Raymond “Skip” Neilson felt that his years at the school had a special and profound impact on his entire life. Neilson, who passed away in August 2019 at the age of 77, was one of only 14 students who graduated from DCDS in the Class of 1959.

To ensure that present and future students will benefit from the education that the former Farmington Hills resident enjoyed and carried through his life, Neilson bequested $100,000 to the school as part of his estate.

The money represents an endowment to the school and a portion has been allocated to establish the Albion Book Award, which will be given to a DCDS student manager, usually a junior or senior. Student managers are responsible for the daily operations of a DCDS sports team, whether it is securing supplies, refilling water bottles, taping games or reviewing video footage. Student managers help coaches with whatever they need to ensure team success. 

This particular book award was named after Skip’s alma mater, where he graduated in 1963. Neilson also requested memorial tributes to DCDS’s Department of Athletics.

“Country Day had a way of enriching and nurturing his love of athletics,” said his brother, David Neilson, whose younger brother Jeffrey attended DCDS’ Middle School. David’s grandson Kellen and granddaughter Ella also attended DCDS’ Lower School.

“Skip felt that Country Day set in place the lifelong learning that he really valued,” David said. “Throughout his life, Skip was involved in coaching. He had tremendous respect for (former) Headmaster F. Alden Shaw, English teacher Beverly Hannett-Price and (former) Coach Joe D’Angelo. He also had an ongoing relationship with Dan McLean,” who is executive director of athletics at the school.

David said that Skip was involved in basketball, baseball, football and even boxing while at DCDS. He went on to win six world championships with U.S. slow pitch softball. He was also inducted into the Albion College Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995 for sports management.

Additionally, Skip received a master’s degree in Computer Science at Wayne State University. He worked at Ford, joining in 1969 and retired in 1995.

David said the family was not surprised by Skip’s bequest to DCDS.

“I think he just felt a loyalty to Country Day and that the bequest would contribute positively to the development of students who got the opportunity to go to Country Day,” David said. “Our family is very proud of what Skip stood for.”

To learn about how to bequest support to Detroit Country Day School, please contact Director of Philanthropy Tina Mangalick at (248) 430-1065 or email her at