Arthur C. Nielsen, Jr. 


Arthur C. Nielsen, Jr. 

About Arthur C. Nielsen Jr.

Arthur C. Nielsen Jr. was born in 1919 and grew up in Winnetka, Illinois. Art Jr. was the oldest of five children - the others being Peggy, Phil, Barbara and Ginny. Art Jr. was married in 1943 to Patricia McKnew, and they had three children: Art III, Chris and Lisa. 

By the time he could walk, Art Jr. was holding a tennis racquet. While he liked sports, he began to focus on tennis during high school at New Trier. He started to win local and regional boys tournaments, and by the age of fifteen he was one of the best young players in the country. In 1934, he won the U.S. Boys Doubles Championship with Joe Junt. At the University of Wisconsin, he was the star player and twice captain of the tennis team. 

In 1941, he joined the Army and served in World War II, reaching the rank of Major in the Army Corps of Engineers. When the war ended in 1945, Art Jr. joined the A.C. Nielsen Company, where he was elected President in 1957 and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in 1975. Through the years, he has also served as a Director of over twenty major corporations - including Walgreens, Motorola and Harris Bank. 

Art Jr. played competitive tennis until his mid-eighties. There were two highlight years - 1946 and 1948 - when he and his father, Art Sr., won the U.S. Father and Son Doubles Championships. Also in 1948 they won the U.S. Father and Son Clay Court Doubles Championship. In subsequent years Art Jr. won numerous tournaments, including the Western Men Seniors' Doubles Championship, the Western Father and Son Doubles Championship with his son, Art III, and the Chicago District Father and Son Doubles Championship with his son, Chris. He represented the United States in International Senior Competitions in Canada and Mexico. He was also a top squash player, winning the Chicago District and Illinois State Championships several times in Singles and Doubles in both the Men's and Senior divisions.

Art Jr. described two memorable moments on the court, "While in an important Father and Son finals against John Powless and his father, I learned a good lesson. We had set point in the first set. George Lott was the umpire. He called the Powless shot out, giving us the set. My Dad, however said he thought the ball had hit the line. George got down from his chair and took a look. My Dad was correct. The ball was in fact good, barely touching the line. I asked my Dad why he challenged the call, which if left to stand would probably have given us the championship. I'll never forget his response, 'Art, it's better to be honest than to win.' His absolute integrity in all things gave the A.C. Nielsen Company a reputation which has been a priceless asset for all the years it has been in business. He taught me so much - not just how to hit a forehand, but how to conduct my life. 

"When the A.C. Nielsen Tennis Court in Winnetka was dedicated, my Dad and Art III took on Chris and me. It was a day to remember for all of us. I treasure the times when my boys and I played together. Tennis can be a means of forming close and happy relationships among family members."

Art Jr. had a long record of government service. He served as Chairman of the U.S. Census Bureau Advisory Committee, Commissioner of the U.S. Information Agency and Representative of the United States for the Marshall Plan in five countries. In the private sector, he was a major contributor to many educational, medical, business and philanthropic organizations. He was a Life Trustee of both Northwestern Memorial Hospital and the University of Chicago, President Emeritus of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and Chairman Emeritus of the Museum of Broadcast Communications. In addition, he was the lead donor of the North Shore Senior Center - Arthur C. Nielsen, Jr. Campus in Northfield, Illinois.

Art Jr. served as the President of the Board of the Gertrude B. Nielsen Child Care and Learning Center until his death in 2011.  He was responsible for bringing his mother Gertrude’s vison of a special place for the children of working parents alive.  His dedication and passion for the Child Care Center is what made it the success it is today.

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