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Dale Nelson

In late 2021, SARRC lost Dale, a very special Legacy Circle and Grandparents Support Group member. He was described as a generous philanthropist, devoted business owner, talented artist, and athlete. He left behind his wife Linda, a large, blended family as well as a legacy to SARRC that will continue to grow for years to come.


When Dale and Linda Nelson, the proud grandparents of a granddaughter who is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, learned of the Grandparents Support Group at Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center, they quickly became regular attendees to better understand how they could support their young grandchild.

“Attending the Grandparents Group meetings made us believers in the impact SARRC could make, and the power grandparents can have in supporting their children and their grandchildren,” says Dale.

Their granddaughter, who has participated in SARRC’s JumpStart and Comprehensive Behavioral Programs, is now 13 and thriving—which Dale says was in large part due to the support she has received, noting the influence SARRC has had on her development.

“The more we learned and saw firsthand SARRC’s research-based services, the more we understood that these interventions were improving outcomes for children like our granddaughter as they transition into adulthood,” says Dale.

His knowledge of SARRC’s work with families and its research and future plans led Dale to include SARRC in his estate planning.

Dale, who came from humble beginnings in Nebraska, grew up on a farm, where from an early age, he was his dad’s right-hand man tending the animals and crops. He attended a one-room schoolhouse, graduated from high school and attended a year of college at Wayne State. In the fall of 1952, Dale escaped the Nebraska winter, settled in Phoenix and took a job with APS. After a 16-year career working for APS, he decided to put his creative genius to work and start his own business. During a visit to the Phoenix Art Museum he was inspired by sculptor, Alexander Archipinko. In 1968, his inspiration and artistic ability led him to establish a successful Phoenix-based candle business. His deep-rooted and thriving work ethic paid off and with candles that were works of art, his business flourished for many years. In 1993, he retired and sold his business to his employees.

Dale is proud, now, to be able to share his successes with organizations he supports, including SARRC.

“As I reviewed options, I decided not to just to make SARRC a beneficiary when I passed away. I realized I could make a difference now while I’m still here,” explains Dale. “I decided to donate my IRA account to SARRC and to make two Charitable IRA rollovers to accomplish that. Not only did this gift make me incredibly proud to be able to leave this legacy, it also eliminated my need to take Required Minimum Distributions from this account and the taxes I had been paying annually on those funds. And, those funds are growing right now in the SARRC endowment account making sure services for those with autism are there for all who need it in the future.”

In addition to those funds growing in a SARRC endowment account, he says the gift also honors the positive influence SARRC has had on their granddaughter and their family’s lives.

“I’m grateful for all the support SARRC has made possible for our granddaughter and I’m impressed by the leaders and staff. Making sure services for those with autism is available for those with the greatest need is very important,” says Dale.

If you would like to learn more about becoming a Legacy Circle member and ensuring the continued vitality and growth of SARRC’s services from one generation to the next, please contact Devin Dye at [email protected] or (602) 218-8183.