James Nickisch

May 23, 1933 ~ February 16, 2021 (age 87)


James Arthur Nickisch, 87, of Pequot Lakes, MN, passed away on Tuesday, February 16, 2021. He was born to Mildred and Oscar Nickisch on May 23, 1933 in St. Paul, MN.

As a teen, Jim moved to Pequot Lakes with his mother and sister. There he met Marilyn Merritt, the ‘new girl in town,’ on her first day at Pequot High School. The sweethearts married four years later, on May 30, 1952, under a weeping willow tree on the shore of Pelican Lake. Jim began working for the State of Minnesota on the Carlos Avery Game Refuge and enjoyed a 35-year career as a Minnesota Conservation Officer, retiring his position as a Regional Supervisor in 1988.

Jim’s career as a game warden, as Conservation Officers were historically called, included working in Littlefork, Onamia, Long Prairie, Brainerd, and St. Paul, Minnesota. A few years before his retirement, he and Lyn returned to Pequot Lakes. They came full circle, living out their retirement years just ‘down the road’ from the willow tree on Pelican Lake where they’d married.

Jim’s love of nature inspired his family to enjoy observing wildlife - bald eagles, deer, beaver – and also led to unusual family pets like a bobcat and raccoon. Jim loved to fish, specializing in catching walleye on Pelican Lake. He utilized his life-long interest in airplanes and space exploration by meticulously building pedal planes for his grandchildren to ‘fly’ down the driveway. Jim was a generous man and lived his life with integrity, a supportive, reliable and fair-minded father, grandfather and friend to many.  

Jim was preceded in death by Lyn, his wife of 61 years. He is survived by his three children: Lauren Nickisch (C.J. Anderson) of Pequot Lakes, L.J. Nickisch (Laurie) of Salinas, CA, and Shelley Smischney of White Bear Lake, MN; four grandchildren: Tegan Smischney (John Burke), Cherie Smischney (Zachary Sowman), Kaylee Nickisch, and Corrie Clark (Kevin Clark) who resided with Jim in his final years; three great-grandchildren: Akaylia Sowman, Landen James Clark, and James Orion Smischney Burke, who brought him great joy.

A small family gathering in the summer is planned to honor his extraordinary life.

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