Campana: A Scottsdale hero has died

There is no journalist who did more for the creation of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve than Joel Nilsson.

We should all be saddened at the untimely death of a past dean of Arizona journalism.

Sam Campana

Joel wrote often and eloquently during the years of Scottsdale citizens campaigning through five elections to establish the largest urban preserve in the country. He was the most articulate, thoughtful writer at the AZ Republic — who took the time, interviewed, did independent research — a columnist one eagerly anticipated, read and believed.

As mayor, he was at the top of my list when public policy got complicated — and you needed an article or opinion piece to get it right. He was a true policy wonk and his editorial work lifted all of Arizona’s thinking.

But for me — he was critical to Scottsdale and many of our successes.

He was a talented artist/potter as well — and I came to count he and Pam as personal friends after our adventurous trip to Israel with the United Conference of Christians and Jews in 1985. I am joining other policy wonks, non-profit leaders, politicians, preservationists and arts advocates.

Thank you, Joel Nilsson, and RIP. Your legacy here is enormous. My sympathy to you, Pam, and those wonderful boys he was SO proud of.
Arizona journalism will never be the same without you.

Editor’s Note: Sam Campana is a former mayor of Scottsdale

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