Dr. Carl Lacey Nissen returned to the presence of God on Sunday, January 18, 2015. His over 20-year struggle with Parkinson's Disease ended with his wife and daughter at his bedside.
Carl was born on April 17, 1931, in Seattle, Washington. He graduated from Seattle Pacific College with a BA in History and Sociology. He served two years in the US Army during the Korean conflict; it was at this time that he chose the Ministry as his profession. Carl went on to receive his divinity degree at San Francisco Theological Seminary. He served congregations as a Presbyterian Minister at Lake Burien, WA; Bremerton, WA; Magnolia in Seattle, WA, and Falls Church, VA, a total of 38 years.
During his tenure at Magnolia Presbyterian, Carl earned his Doctorate in Theological Studies from San Francisco Theological Seminary. He wrote his dissertation on the responsibility of the Church in meeting the hunger crisis, specifically in the Seattle area. Eradicating hunger in America remained a cause for Carl throughout his ministry.
Carl Nissen was a passionate, committed liberal. He was responsible for initiating the first feeding programs in the greater Seattle area, the precursors of the food banks of today. He was committed to understanding and cooperation among various religions (“There are many paths to God,” he noted). He served as leader of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, DC during the 1990s, which met and held services at the National Cathedral.
Carl was proud of and dedicated to “preaching and teaching.” He affected the lives of countless people through his counseling talents. He was trained in counseling by humanistic psychologist Virginia Satir, and renowned psychiatrist and psychotherapist, Fritz Pearls. Carl remained a member of the Virginia Satir Society, traveling to Russia on two occasions to teach family counseling, before his retirement in 1996.
A true “renaissance man,” Carl had a deep love for the outdoors, including hiking and fly fishing. His many intellectual pursuits included theology, philosophy, sociology, history, literature, and music.
Carl is loved and survived by his wife, Cathy (Angel Fire, NM); his daughter, Rebecca Caron and husband, David, (Valle Escondido, NM); his son Timothy (Charlottesville, VA); and his son Peter and wife Carolyn Coffee-Nissen and his beautiful grandson, Jens Carl (North Bend, WA). He is also survived by so many wonderful friends and members of his past congregations in so many areas of the country and the world, who treasure him with love and respect. A celebration of Carl's life will be held in the Spring.