Arthur C. Nielsen, Sr., Founder of the A.C. Nielsen Company. Husband of  Gertrude B. Nielsen

 

Arthur C. Nielsen, Sr., Founder of the A.C. Nielsen Company. Husband of Gertrude B. Nielsen

About Arthur C. Nielsen Sr.

Arthur C. Nielsen Sr., Founder of the A.C. Nielsen Company, played tennis into his late seventies. He claimed the exercise kept him fit to handle his sixty-five-hour work week as the head of the world's largest marketing research company. As he was fond of saying, "nothing is more important than good health, which is a great excuse for staying fit while having fun playing tennis."

Tennis had been a part of Nielsen's life since his boyhood, when he used to slice a ball across his neighbor's lawn. Later, he captained the University of Wisconsin's tennis team for three years and participated in the U.S. Men's Singles Championship. He teamed with his son, Art, to sweep three U.S. Father and Son Championships. He also teamed with his daughter, Peggy, to win the U.S. Father and Daughter Crown.

"During the long winters," said Nielsen, recalling his college days at Wisconsin, "life for a tennis enthusiast was close to intolerable. We tried to find an indoor tennis facility, but our efforts were in vain. Occasionally, we were allowed to use the armory for an hour - but most of that time was spent on our hands and knees, marking the court lines with chalk. In desperation, we tried tennis on ice, using skates, but this was a complete failure. The balls became wet and dampness soon broke our racquets. And the balls, on striking the ice, skidded in a very abnormal way. Obviously, tennis and ice don't mix."

Nielsen improved on this creative approach to winter tennis when he and his wife, Gertrude, provided the funds for the indoor courts of the A.C. Nielsen Tennis Center in Winnetka. The center was one of the first indoor facilities in Chicago and is still one of the finest in the country. In addition, they donated the Nielsen Tennis Stadium on the campus of the University of Wisconsin. At the time of its dedication in 1968, it was the largest indoor tennis facility in the world. Arthur Nielsen's legacy of integrity, generosity, and sportsmanship is an inspiration for present and future generations.  

The Nielsen Family articles were written by Charlie Schaaf and Chris and Laurie Nielsen