Wesley E. Nissen

November 22, 2019


It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Wesley E. Nissen on Nov. 22, 2019. Wes requested that no services be held. The family suggests that any memorials be in the form of contributions to your favorite charity.

Wes was born 97 years ago in Eureka, California on Jan. 20, 1922. His family moved to El Cerrito, California then to Richmond, California, where he graduated from high school. From there, the family moved back to Eureka.

Wes started his banking career at the Eureka Bank of America. There, Wes met Sena Jorgensen at a local dance. At the beginning of WWII, Wes went to work in a San Francisco area wartime shipyard and Sena went on to beauty school in Santa Rosa, Calif. Their relationship flourished to the point that they eloped to Reno on Dec. 26, 1942. They were together for 66 years until Sena's death in 2009.

Prior to his marriage, Wes had enlisted in the Navy's Aviation Cadet Training Program. After his marriage to Sena, he resigned from the Navy's pilot cadet program ( the Navy would not accept married pilots) and reenlisted in the US Army Air Corps. Wes served three years as an Army pilot.

After his military service, Wes graduated from the from the Pacific Coast Banking School and joined the First National Bank of Oregon in Grants Pass. Wes and Sena Nissen first came to the Coos Bay area in 1950, when he was transferred to First National's North Bend branch. With every bank promotion came a transfer: Medford, Coos Bay, Coquille, Medford, and finally back to Coos Bay, where Wes remained until his retirement in 1982 as a Vice President from what by then had become First Interstate Bank. Wes and Sena loved the Bay Area and its people, so they decided to stay.

In all of the communities where Wes and his family lived during his banking career, Wes participated with local volunteer, service and civic organizations. In Coos Bay, Wes served on the Coos Bay School District's Board of Directors (including service as School Board Chairman and work on the Board's Budget Committee), the Coos Bay Area Chamber of Commerce ( where he served as President), the United Way of Southwestern Oregon (where he also served as President), the American Cancer Society's Coos Bay Chapter (where he served as Treasurer), Coos Bay Fire and Rescue Services ( where he served as a Home Fire Safety Advisor), and more. In Coos Bay and other Southwest Oregon communities where he lived, he was also active with other organizations including the Lions, Kiwanis, Rotary, Elks Clubs and more. Wes was a huge supporter of the American Red Cross, with over 50 blood donations through the years.

Wes is survived by his three children and their spouses, Rick and Susi Nissen of Redmond, Oregon, Vickie and Tom Stringfield of Portland, and Julie and Steve McDaniel of North Bend; five grandchildren and their spouses, Brian and Bella Nissen, Polly and Michael Renner, Stephanie and Tyler Lake, Stephen and Sarah French, and Mark and Beth McDaniel and by seven great-grandchildren, Adam, Alyssa, Alexandra, Avery, Abigail, Diesel, Payton,Greyson, and Anna.

Wes was predeceased by his older brother, Harley, who was a North Bend resident.

Wes a loving husband, dad, grandfather, great-grandfather, friend and neighbor. His family, friends and neighbors always knew he would be available and willing to lend a helping hand, assist and support any activity or challenge. He was generous to all and his family and friends will be forever grateful for his presence in their lives. We feel so fortunate to have had him as long as we did. With time our memories will comfort our loss.

His only wish has been answered, to again be with the sweet girl who said "yes" 77 years ago,

Arrangements are under the care of Coos Bay Chapel, 541-267-3131. Friends and family are encouraged to sign the online guestbook at

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