Susanne Nickolai-Mays(1943 - 2014)

Dr. Susanne J. Nickolai-Mays, PhD, age 70, passed from this life on January 17, 2014 at St. Agnes Hospital in Fond du Lac after her battle with cancer.

She was born September 16, 1943 in Ripon, the daughter of Elmer and Edna Muehrer Nickolai. Susanne lived on the family farm until she left for college. As the oldest child she was taught how to drive the farm tractor and help her dad in the fields. She loved learning all her life and really was a "life-long learner". She attended Neshkoro Grade School, Princeton High School where she was Valedictorian and then went on to UW-Oshkosh where she earned a degree in Secondary Education with majors in English and Social Studies. After graduation, she moved to Waukesha where she taught for 18 years at the middle school and high school levels in the city.

Susanne continued her post graduate education while teaching. She first earned a Master's Degree in Reading from Cardinal Stritch College in Milwaukee. Next she attended UW-Milwaukee where she earned a MS in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in school counseling. Finally, she completed a PhD in Urban Education with an emphasis on multicultural education and those who are underserved in society. Susanne felt blessed to receive a number of scholarships from Delta Kappa Gamma sorority to cover much of the cost of her advanced education. Eventually, Susanne moved on to teach at Concordia University in Mequon, Cardinal Stritch College in Milwaukee and Marian University of Fond du Lac in the Education Department of each institution.

Susanne and her late husband, Sellers Mays, loved meeting and interacting with people from all over the world. Over the years, they hosted many exchange students and families from Brazil, Guadeloupe, Mexico and France—most of whom she kept in contact with up until the time of her passing. Traveling the world was important to both of them. They took several cruises in the Caribbean and traveled frequently in Europe, Canada and Mexico. In recent years until her husband's passing, she and Sellers spent winters in Green Valley, AZ where they developed close ties with residents and thought of the city as their "winter" home. She was an active member of Grace Lutheran Church, first in Berlin, and the past few years in Ripon.

She is survived by a sister; Ruth (Bob) Levy; a brother, Robert (Carol) Nickolai; and dear step-children, grandchildren, family and friends all over the world. She will be greatly missed by many others whose lives she touched in her 70 years, and will be remembered by her intellect, kindness and wonderful craft skills.

Memorial services will be held on Saturday, May 10, 2014 at 11:00 a.m. at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church at 430 W. Griswold Street in Ripon, the Rev. Clay R. Salmela officiating. Inurnment will be in Memory Hill Cemetery in Princeton. There will be a gathering of family and friends at the church on Saturday morning from 10:00 a.m. until the time of the services. Arrangements have been entrusted to Barbola Funeral Chapel of Berlin. Memorials may be directed to Cedric and Lula Mays Foundation at P.O. Box 13101, Wauwatosa, WI 53213, which provides college scholarships for underserved students or to Marian University at 45 S. National Avenue, Fond du Lac, WI 54935, Department of Education.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at


Funeral Home

Barbola Funeral Chapel, Inc.
282 E. Marquette Street Berlin, WI 54923
(920) 361-2755

Published in Oshkosh Northwestern on May 4, 2014