Always smiling
William Nickerson
  • 85 years old
  • Date of birth: Feb 10, 1927
  • Date of passing: Apr 7, 2012
Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right.

This site was created in memory of our Dad, Bill Nickerson, one of the most loving, kind-hearted and generous men ever. People often say things like that in times like this, but if you were fortunate enough to have known him then you know this to be true.

Dad was always bursting with energy, never one to sit still or waste a beautiful day. He always made time for people, and dedicated his life to helping others. His love was unconditional, his support unwavering, his belief that people are inherently good, untarnished.

He was a proud husband, father, grandfather, musician and 'Maniac' spending his adult life in New York conducting choir and sailing on Long Island Sound, but never forgetting his roots in Maine. Together with our Mom he was a founding member of the Peace Corps in Ethiopia, and he carried out its mission throughout his entire life, regularly reminding us all that "your point of view depends upon your point of view'".

In his last days, as his body began to fail, Dad's heart and soul remained as strong as ever. When he struggled to remember what he was saying from one sentence to the next, he still managed to tell jokes to his nurses and speak phrases in French and Amharic. He had only words of joy and pride to share. When he could no longer stand or see clearly, he still managed to kick a ball from his chair for his youngest grandson to catch, and to give him countless smiles and 'high-fives'. And as we sat by the fire in the family room that he built, without ever training as a carpenter, he was often confused about where he was, but he was still content. He sang songs in Italian and smiled at us sweetly, his sea green eyes beaming with light and love, as always.

When he could no longer communicate Dad knew his work here was done, and he left us peacefully in his sleep. In his 85 years here on earth he touched the lives of people all over the world, many who passed before him. We are comforted by the thought that he is with them now, sailing the high seas with the sun at his back and the wind blowing across the bow. Please join us in remembering him here, with your thoughts and stories, or by simply giving someone an extra big smile today. Nothing would make him happier.

The Nickersons

Memorial Service:                                Reception:                        
10.00 AM, Saturday, May 19th               Immediately following                
St. James' Parish                                   The Copperfield Inn                    
237 Main Street                                      307 Main Street                         
North Creek, New York                           North Creek, New York                       
12853                                                     12853


Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Chris Hatcher on 11th February 2017

"I remember Mr Nickerson as I was growing up, playing with Jimmy, hanging out up in North Creek, going on all those church retreats at Holiday Hills and Quinapet.  And Mr Nickerson was always doing something to make sure everyone was enjoying themselves.  Fixing something broken with all his skills, leading us on a hike, watching us as we learned to swim, driving us all over the place, making pancakes or whatever needed doing.  What a great guy.  I miss him"

This tribute was added by Judith Nickerson on 7th April 2015

"I miss my Uncle Bill he was the greatest Uncle any one could have his positive spirit he is greatly missed by many"

This tribute was added by Amy Nickerson Close on 7th April 2015

"Miss you every day, Dad xx"

This tribute was added by Rob & Jane Smith on 25th February 2015

"Dear Bill, you touched our lives in so many ways.  We're still singing, skiing, and living (part time) in Antler Lake.  You always encouraged us to be the best we could be. Thank you!
Love Rob & Jane"

This tribute was added by Judith Nickerson on 10th February 2015

"Happy Birthday to the greatest Uncle any one could ever have miss your phone calls  and your wonderful spirit."

This tribute was added by Marian Peek on 10th February 2015

"Happy Birthday Bill up in heaven."

This tribute was added by Sean Flannigan on 2nd August 2014

"Great Uncle Bill was an amazing man and I'll always remember the advice he gave me during our infrequent visits growing up. When I was in high school he took the time out to spend some time with me and asked me what I was about, what I was in to. It makes me laugh to think about it but I told him Well Uncle bill I think I like the early poems by Malcolm X and Ferlinghetti and I think the paintings of Egon Schiele and I think I need to read all books from all religions. Being in Maine that turned the room to dead silence and a few intakes of breath. Uncle Bill nodded a kind of approval and put on some Vivaldi. Then he told me about his love for Vivaldi. At the end of it he said, "Well young Flannigan I think you'll be just fine. Keep an open heart and if they all don't seem to get it then tuff on them." Then he kind of chuckled. Course he said the whole thing in that kind of Baritone slow Maine mischievous drawl he had. Some how he tracked me down at work six months before his passing and chatted my ear off and invited me upstate. I'm sorry I didn't make it. Some will think it improper to share this in the public realm but Uncle Bill's life should be celebrated. A great member of the family and a true gentleman and a scholar. A reminder to me of what we can be and should be. Love ya Bill"

This tribute was added by Carol Flannigan on 5th April 2014

"Two years ago, God took a wonderful uncle, miss him every day.
Bless his family.Forever in my heart Uncle Bill."

This tribute was added by Marian Peek on 10th February 2014

"Happy Birthday up in heaven Bill. RIP"

This tribute was added by Andrea Blum on 10th February 2014

"Driving to work this morning over the snow covered road reminded me of the crazy trip we took after a snow storm to pick out tiles for my bathroom. You would never let a little thing like a snow storm stop you! I will always be grateful for all the help you gave my family and it makes me happy to think of you today on the anniversary of your birth."

This tribute was added by Judith Nickerson on 10th February 2014

"Today is your 87th birthday the sun is shining and the bay is frozen over I know where ever you are you are singing and spreading joy .Miss your phone calls.
Love you Forevver

This tribute was added by Amy Nickerson Close on 7th April 2013

"Miss you Dad"

This tribute was added by Jenny Stock on 11th February 2013

"My family was lucky to be invited to sail with the Nickerson family and I can remember being so excited when I learned of those days we got to do so. As a young girl, it was absolutely so exhilirating to have those experiences. My memories of Bill are he was always smiling and loving life and a total jokester! my thoughts are with all of you as you remember Bill."

This tribute was added by Marian Peek on 10th February 2013

"Your friend Diane Olsen says it for me also Janet. I know he is very happy in heaven as I know my husband is. God Bless"

This tribute was added by Diane Olsen on 10th February 2013

"i am thinking about Janet today and all the lovely stories she has told me over the years about her and her hubby and the family.  He is now in heaven singing with the angels and I am sure he is greatly missed.
Happy Birthday and may God Bless You always....xo"

This tribute was added by Judith Nickerson on 10th February 2013

"To My Uncle Bill  a very special Uncle with  a generous spirit and never ending love.This day is for you the sun is shining and the ocean is so blue and beautiful .  Every morning I look out to the ocean I think of you and I know where ever  you are you are singing. You are missed by so many ,your spirit lives on in all of us .Love You Forever Judy"

This tribute was added by Kate Nickerson Purdie on 10th February 2013

"Missing you today and every day dad, but you are all around us. I just taught Luke to jump into the pool by singing 'one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready and four to go!' - just like you taught me. Wish you were here. I love you. xxx"

This tribute was added by Peter Hatcher on 17th May 2012

"I second what Chris wrote.  I have many fond memories of the adventures undertaken in the name of the Congregational Church of Huntington.  The “retreats” and ski trips to Wevertown with the Nickerson family will never be forgotten.  We will miss Bill’s kind way.  Our hearts are with you.  Peter and Pam"

This tribute was added by Marian Peek on 9th May 2012

"I did not know Bill except what Jan wrote to me in emails. Reading this tribute to him he must have been a terrific Dad & husband. Love you Jan & remember to take it one day at a time.
god Bless"

This tribute was added by Chris Hatcher on 29th April 2012

"I remember the fun of growing up in Huntington with frequent trips with Jimmy, Tom North, and Peter to places like Shelter Island, Holiday Hills, Gore Mountain....  All of it made possible by great Dads like Bill, driving us all over the place in those big station wagons.  I remember him as a happy, hard working man who always took time to pass on a funny story.  I'm sure he's at peace now"

This tribute was added by Michael Markwica on 26th April 2012

"As I read the tribute above I could see Bill in each description.  I knew Bill through Rotary and school.  Bill always had a kind word and smile to share. He had a love for students and music that he shared with everyone. I was lucky to have had the opportunity to know Bill.  If we could all be a little bit like Bill the world would be a better place."

This tribute was added by Mary Leach on 24th April 2012

"Mr. Nickerson was always a warm, supportive presence at Johnsburg Central School music events.  He never missed an opportunity to encourage our students.  Our Junior Chorus will be dedicating a song to his memory at our May 15 Concert.  His smile and kind words will be missed, but his memory will live on in our hearts for years to come.  Thank you, Mr. Nickerson!"

This tribute was added by E. Nickerson on 19th April 2012

"I only met him briefly but I could tell he was a true gentleman in every way.
Bill, may God continue to bless your family now with the treasures you wisely left them, compassion and love, leadership and wisdom, true friendship and giving fatherhood."

This tribute was added by Claudia Mingin on 17th April 2012

"What a lovely tribute to a wonderful man. Mr. Nickerson was my music teacher in Huntington schools. He always had a beautiful smile and a kind and caring way with his students. I remember him warmly.  My condolences to his family."

This tribute was added by Donna Henderson on 17th April 2012

"Uncle Bill,   I will always love the time you and were with us.  My Daddy always said I got my musical talent and voice from you.   I will miss you very much.  Aunt Janet and Katie, Amy, Jim and their spouses and family are always in my prayers.  I know you are in heaven leading a choir of angel voices.  One day we will all see you again.  Thank you for your love and all the phone calls."

This tribute was added by Linda Shoemaker on 16th April 2012

"I have such wonderful memories of Bill, having worked with him in the music department in Huntington, NY.  He was one of a kind!  A fine musician and a teacher who truly loved his kids, he was just so much fun to be around.  I'll never forget you, Bill.  My thoughts and prayers are with his family."

This tribute was added by doyle coleman on 15th April 2012

"To you Mr. Nickerson my W.I.J.H music teacher. So many memories that make me smile. After so many years we were reconnected. I still have your voice on my answering machine. I'm pleased to have had the pleasure of our lives joined. Forever your student, doyle coleman"

This tribute was added by Marje Losen on 14th April 2012

"As boats are entering Northport Harbor, I find myself straining to hear Bill's voice leading his crew all in tune.  Bill's soul must be visiting, because I haven't heard him every spring, but this year he's been loud and clear.  My love to all the Nickerson's in this time of sorrow -- we Losens miss you."

This tribute was added by Lori Cowan on 13th April 2012

"This is from my mother, Lis (Curnin) Buchwaldt:

"I first met Bill more than 40 years ago when he and Janet became our neighbors in Centerport.  It lead to many happy times at church, sailing and visits to the Farm.  Many years later I asked him to walk me down the aisle when I got married here in Denmark-and he did! Bill, thanks for the memories." Lis Curnin Buchwaldt."

This tribute was added by Amy Nickerson Close on 13th April 2012

"Dad, you taught us to live our dreams and encouraged us to pursue every opportunity life has to offer.
I am forever grateful that fate placed me with you and Mom.  I couldn't have asked for a better father.  I hope you knew how much you were loved.  xx"

This tribute was added by alex mckay on 11th April 2012

"So sorry to learn of Bill's passing - I can vividly remember his infectious smile even though it's many years since we've seen him - also remember his first arrival in Hungtington and his assembly performance in Ethipian native costume - he was a showman through and through - wonderful tribute on this website -"

This tribute was added by kristin theofield on 10th April 2012

"May you find comfort in your wonderful family and know that we are thinking of you.  You are in our thoughts and prayers. This is a lovely tribute to your dad.  Your great qualities, values and morals were instilled in you by your parents.  The best tribute to your dad is to pass his wisdom onto Luke. All our love, kristin (Bernard) Theofield and family"

This tribute was added by Jen McRae Fitzsimmons on 10th April 2012

"Even though it has been many years since I have seen him, every Sunday I half expect him to walk through the sanctuary with red robes following behind him. I remember as a kid waving my imaginary baton in the air, imitating his movements.  Kate, I can't imagine your loss, and have many fond childhood memories of your dad.  Much love, Jen"

This tribute was added by Robert Phear on 10th April 2012

"Bill worked very hard to make the choir at the Congregational Church the best it could be, and he always succeeded.  I cherish the years I got to spend with him as my director and my friend.  Pam and I send our deepest sympathies to Janet and all of Bill's family."

This tribute was added by Sylvia Kellershon on 10th April 2012

"There we are..two boats in the middle of Long Island Sound being ravaged by Hurricane Bob. Through the howling wind, I hear strains of a sea chantey. I look towards the sound to see the captain single-handedly sailing his boat..rails in the water..and with the biggest smile on his face. That is how I will remember Bill of a kind..a free spirit with a 'joie de vivre.'"

This tribute was added by Diane Olsen on 10th April 2012

"Janet, I am so sorry for your loss.  Tho I didn't know Bill all that well I do know that you were an amazing wife to him and You gave him so much love.  I pray that in this time of loss, you can still look back at all the amazing memories you both had together and that will comfort you at this time.  God bless You and Your family.  Love you, Diane"

This tribute was added by john hildebrand on 10th April 2012

"Bill was always a lot of fun. We have nephews in Texas who still remember -- 20 years later -- how Bill scooped them up from one sailboat and plopped them down on his own deck in the middle of Northport harbor. And anybody who ever saw Bill step a mast single-handed knew he had the strength to do it. Truly a gentle giant!"

This tribute was added by Eileen Sharp on 9th April 2012

"We are so fortunate to have known Bill and have him as a neighbor.  His brilliant smile and sparkling eyes will be forever etched in our memories.  Sincere condolences to Janet and family.  May the fond memories of Bill soon outweigh the sadness you now feel.  Going to miss you, Bill!"

This tribute was added by Andrea Blum on 9th April 2012

"Some of the most wonderful memories of my life are from the years Bill conducted the church choir. When he left I knew no one could ever make me experience the same passion for the music as Bill did. I am so grateful to have experienced Vivaldi's "Gloria" with Bill. I find I am unable to explain in words the bond I feel for him through this music. I will miss him greatly."

This tribute was added by Tom Smith on 9th April 2012

"I owe so much to Bill - he introduced my family to the Adirondacks when I was young.  Summers in the mountains and with the Nickersons were a life-long gift that I still draw from.  Sharing peace corps stories.  Skiing with those long black skis.  On the sailboat.  So kind, so positive, and such an appreciation of everyone he met.  Great great guy. Thanks."

This tribute was added by Peter Lassen on 9th April 2012

"Truly a beautiful and peaceful man. Bill brought happiness and joy wherever he went. So many wonderful stories to share, I remember one sailing adventure, Bill was determined to try out wind surfing at a Lloyd Harbor raft up. After repeated dunkings, he sailed out of sight for nearly an hour returning to the raft up battered but wearing a huge smile, mission accomplished. God bless..."

This tribute was added by maria moir on 9th April 2012

"Bill knew how to live life to the fullest. His enthusiasm knew no bounds. I had the pleasure and honor to sing with him as a member of the choir at the Congregational Church of Huntington. We dedicated our rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus to him yesterday. I know he's singing tenor with the heavenly chorus now. My prayers are with you Janet and your children."

This tribute was added by ann stock on 9th April 2012

"The head of a special family and a man of many talents.  Bill will be missed by many who were touched by his genuine, positive spirit in so many ways."

This tribute was added by Lori Cowan on 9th April 2012

"Even though it's been many years since I last saw "Uncle Bill" I can still hear his beautiful voice. I remember hanging out at our next door neighbor's house (the Nickersons) on McKinley Terrace, going out on the boat after dinner, and visiting the farm upstate. I will always hold on to those memories."

This tribute was added by Judith Nickerson on 9th April 2012

"Uncle Bill was a very special uncle and I will always treasure the time spend with him.I will deeply miss his weekly phone calls even though I could hear the weakness in voice  we always found something to laugh about.
It is a very very sad day,I will miss his generous spirit and never ending love that will never be forgotten
Love You Uncle Bill"

This tribute was added by Kathleen Collins on 8th April 2012

"Such a beautiful tribute to wonderful man.  Mr Nickerson was my music teacher at Jefferson Elementary and I still remember his infectious smile and fun classes.   I also knew the Nickerson family through my friendship with Lee Whay and knew what a special, loving and fun family they were.  Your family is in my thoughts and prayers."

This tribute was added by Midge Willis on 8th April 2012

"Beautiful! I will ALWAYS remember Bill with a smile! He was a dear and loving soul. I will forever be grateful for the time Bill spent with my dear Kenneth during his last days touring all the local beaches and spending quiet hours together. He cheered and comforted him. May the pain of loss felt by loved ones here be eased by knowledge of  the joyous heavenly reunion that awaited. Midge."

This tribute was added by Rob & Jane Smith on 8th April 2012

"Bill was the original "Can Do" Guy.  We never heard him say some task was too hard or impossible to do.  In fact the only way to get him angry was to suggest that you or someone else could not do something.  How many thousands of people young and old, did he encourage and give the confidence to try something they were afraid to do. Bill, you made a difference!"

This tribute was added by Sally W Lawrence on 8th April 2012

"What a wonderful page!  Just beautiful!  Bill will really be missed by so many!  Hugs to you and your family   XOXOX"

This tribute was added by Ivan Purdie on 8th April 2012

"You positively impacted the lives of so many people through your generous nature and positive spirit.  You had time for everyone and saw the good in all.  Your family is testimony to the values you lived by and that legacy continues unabated.  Bill, we are sad to see you go, but grateful to have known you.  You made us all better human beings."

This tribute was added by Kate Nickerson Purdie on 7th April 2012

"My heart is aching but I am so grateful I had the chance to say goodbye. Thank you for waiting for me - you never let me down, right until the end.

May the music be playing and the ocean breeze be blowing wherever you are. I love you daddy. xxx""

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The Nickersons


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