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1931 - 2013 Obituary Condolences
MAPLE PARK – John L. Nickels, 82, of Maple Park, Ill., passed away peacefully at his home, surrounded by the love and prayers of his family in the early morning hours of Monday, June 24, 2013. A humble, hard-working man who was no stranger to chores on the farm or the bench of the Illinois Supreme Court, John was an "every man," friend to all walks and every station in life. He will be missed by many and never be forgotten.
John was born on Jan. 16, 1931, in Aurora, the son of Philip and Gertrude (Rausch) Nickels.
John grew up in Sugar Grove, and spent his early educational years in a one-room schoolhouse with 14 other students. He eventually attended and graduated from Marmion Military Academy.
John continued his education at Northern Illinois University, graduating with a bachelor's degree in business, and Northwestern University where he studied trust administration. He then went on to DePaul University where he received his degree of juris doctorate before graduating from the National Judicial College.
John entered the U.S. Army in 1954. He supported his brothers in arms overseas through work in aircraft maintenance and also trained for work in control towers while being stationed in both Texas and Louisiana. He was honorably discharged in 1956.
It wasn't hardly a year later that his soul was made whole when he married Merita Smith at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Batavia on June 22, 1957.
They began their new life in DeKalb while he attended NIU, but moved to Chicago during his law school years. Batavia was home during the early years while establishing his practice but he settled in Maple Park. A man is only as great as the woman by his side and there was no woman greater than Merita. Each step of the way, she made each house a home, filling it with love, laughter, memories and a growing family that would include eight children.
John was a man who never stopped learning. His ironclad work ethic was forged on the farm, tending both his fields and livestock. He always strove to be the best, no matter his station in life, and adapted those bedrock values to catapult from a trial lawyer to senior partner in his own firm where he practiced in DeKalb, Kane and Kendall counties. He didn't stop there, however; John rose to the challenge of becoming a circuit court judge in 1982, an appellate court judge in 1990 and eventually retiring as a justice on the Illinois Supreme Court.
John was a member of the Illinois State, Kane County and DeKalb County Bar Associations, the Kane and DeKalb County Farm Bureau, International Association of Lions Clubs, Loyal Order of Moose, as well as the American Legion. He not only served his community on the bench, John also gave of his time to Waubonsee College Board of Trustees, Kane County Zoning Board of Appeals, Kane County Regional Planning Commission and was a city attorney. He was on the Advisory Board for Sheltered Workshop, Advisory Council for Kaneland School District 302 and past president of the PTA. John also was on the Kane County Bank & Trust Company board of directors, a parish lector and faithful member of St. Gall Catholic Church, where he also was past president of the men's club. In later years he also was a member of the Luxembourg American Cultural Society ands upported the Rafiki Foundation, an organization established for the education and scholarships for orphans and abandoned children in Tanzania and Marmion Abbeys Mission School of San Jose in Guatemala.
Through all his accomplishments and accolades, John was forever a farmer at heart. His roots ran deep into the hills and valleys of the countryside and he was never happier than when he was surrounded by his loving family.
He is survived by his loving wife, Merita; seven children, Mary (James) Himic of Kaneohe, Hawaii, Jacqueline (David) Beane of Big Rock, Margaret (Kenneth) Mangers of Maple Park, Lisa (Joseph) Edmeier of Hinckley, Philip (Sara) Nickels of Moshe, Tanzania, Africa, Ruth Anne (Jean-Baptiste) Philippot of Saint Arnoult-En-Yvelines, France and Gertrude (Peter) Filipos of Maple Park; 23 grandchildren; one great-grandson; two sisters, Jean Morris of Couderay, Wis., and Phyllis Nickels of St. Paul, Minn.; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and a countryside of friends.
He was preceded in death by his infant daughter, Christine; parents, Philip and Gertrude Schneider-Nickels; four siblings, Paul and wife, Dorothy Schneider, Catherine Schneider, the Rev. Robert Schneider and Gerald and wife, Mary Nickels; and a brother-in-law, Ralph Morris.
Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 28, with a wake service to begin at 7:30 p.m. at St. Gall Catholic Church, located at the corner of Route 47 and Shannon St., Elburn. Parking and entrance available behind the church off of Gates and Pierce streets. A Mass to celebrate his faith will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 29, also at the church, with a time of visitation from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. The Rev. Tim Seigel, pastor of the church, will celebrate, and interment will follow at St. Gall Cemetery, Route 47, Elburn.
In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established in his name to benefit John's favorite charities. They include The Rafiki Foundation, an organization established for the education and scholarships of orphans and abandoned children in Tanzania, Africa, and Marmion Abbey's Mission School of San Jose, Guatemala, a preparatory school for young men. Checks can be made to the "John Nickels Memorial" and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, IL 60119.
Tributes also can be forwarded to the same address or at www.conleycare.com where you can find his full life story.
Published in Daily Chronicle on June 26, 2013
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