Dr. Debra Lynn Nielsen | Morris Nilsen Funeral Chapel

February 17, 1957 - August 11, 2020

Dr. Debra Lynn Nielsen, age 63, of Richfield. Survived by husband, Dr. Alan Russell; daughter, Dr. Cori Russell; son-in-law, Matthew Lacki; grandson, Wesley Alan Wilder; mother, Betty Ritchie; niece, Janelle Nielsen. Preceded in death by beloved brother, John Nielsen. She was the rarest gem. She excelled in everything she attempted, from academic achievements to skipping rocks. She graduated valedictorian of her class at the University of Minnesota School of Veterinary Medicine, and went on to become a brilliant, dedicated, and compassionate veterinarian. She was creative and artistic, eccentric, and irreverent. She was the person everyone would call when they needed help, and she would drop everything to help her friends and family. She was an avid cook, green thumb, seamstress, finishing carpenter, tile setter, canoeist, cyclist, world traveler, and a lifelong animal lover. Despite her infinite talents and the countless people who loved her, she could never believe how truly magnificent and loved she was. No amount of memories can ever replace her presence.

Due to COVID-19, the memorial service is private.


  1. Todd, Cindy & Shannon Awes says:

    Our hearts are broken for you and your family. We are forever grateful to have known Deb, and thankful for the loving care she gave our pets. We’re deeply sorry for your loss.

    • Sherril Garahan says:

      Debbie was a very special life long friend. They say that it is a blessing to be truly known by someone. Debbie was that someone for me. She also was a special gift to my daughter, son, grandson and my pets. She was an amazing woman in so many ways, always underestimating the impact she made on the lives of others. She will live on forever in our hearts.

  2. brian dalton says:

    Al and Cori,
    I am so sorry for your loss. Deb was a gem. Such a great personality.

  3. Ron and Barbara Tunby says:

    We are beyond sadness and heartache to lose our beautiful Dr Deb, Debra, our friend. She was and will be forever loved, by us, by many. Thinking of you Alan, Cori, Matthew, Wesley, and families, friends.

  4. Sue Mauren says:

    The Nielsen family lived next door to us in Richfield for most of Debbie’s childhood. I was her baby sitter, and our families were best friends. She was a sweet and adorable child. I have many, many fond memories of her as a child, including skipping rocks when our families vacationed together on Lake Superior. I’m so sorry to hear that she has passed away and my heart goes out to her family, especially to her mother Betty.

  5. Nancy (Flavin) Garin says:

    I used to get regular updates on your family when our moms had lunch together every Friday. I am so sorry for your loss. May God bless you and grant you His peace.

  6. Jean Johnson & Niel Ritchie says:

    We knew Deb as Dr. Nielsen and remember her fondly from her days at Lyndale Animal Hospital. Her expertise, care, and compassion was a tremendous gift to both us and our animals. Clearly, she was amazing in many other ways. We are so sorry for your loss. Peace be with you.

  7. Jon Ruff says:

    I didn’t know Deb well nor for long. I was an anesthesia technician in the veterinary hospital during the time she was a senior student, and for a period after as she stayed on, I think, for an internship. She was great to work with, but the reason I remember her as well as I do, after so long, was for her uncommon kindness.She was among the professionals, women mostly, who greatly raised the bar for animal care.

  8. Tom DeKoster says:

    My deepest condolences, sorry for your loss.

  9. Mary Juber says:

    I never knew Deb well in veterinary school (Denny, you were so blessed!), but I remember her as a vibrant, intelligent person with a great sense of humor. I am so sorry for this truly tragic loss.

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