In Memoriam - Ardell E. Nickels

Vol. II No. 2 - WINTER 1989

By: Sandra A. Remis

The day Ardell E. Nickels died, Edgewater lost a beloved friend, neighbor and community activist. Ardell, a founder and board member of the Edgewater Historical Society, passed away quietly at Swedish Covenant Hospital on October 18, 1989, after suffering a fatal stroke. I won’t bother to note her age; Ardell never did. She was too busy living every moment of every day to even think of counting years.

Mrs. Nickels, a Rogers Park resident, formerly lived in the Lakewood-Balmoral neighborhood of Edgewater for 33 years. She is survived by her husband Charles (“Bud”), daughter Bobbi and son G.J.

Mrs. Nickels owned and operated Andersonville Realty and Insurance for 15 years. Her many affiliations, besides EHS, included Edgewater Business and Professional Women, of which she was president, the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, the Edgewater Community Council, the Edgewater Development Corp., Unity Lutheran Church, the North Shore Harmonizers and the Sweet Adelines.

She recently acted as chairwoman of the Andersonville Royal Ball and conducted a lively auction at the event on October 14, a few short days before her death. For years she served as chief organizer for the Miss Andersonville Contest. At the October 14 ball, she had the pleasure of crowning this year’s Andersonville Queen, Christina Travis.

When her two children were attending school, Mrs. Nickels served as president/member of the Peirce Elementary and Senn High School PTAs. She was also a den mother for the Unity Lutheran Church cub scout pack.

A lovely memorial service for Mrs. Nickels was conducted by Pastor Lon Bechtel at Unity Lutheran Church, 5409 N. Magnolia, on Saturday, October 28,1989. The North Shore Harmonizers sang two beautifully moving compositions - “When I Grow Too Old to Dream” and “My Friend” - which brought tears to the eyes of more than one at the well-attended service.

Trimmed with bright flowers, a broad-brimmed hat - Ardell’s “trademark” - perched ‘Jauntily, as if listening,’ on the steps up to the podium where several of those assembled were honored to share their remembrances of a great lady.

Bobbi Zehner, Ardell’s daughter, delivered a loving commentary on what it was like being raised by a wonderful and unorthodox mother who danced while she dusted, took time to smell the roses and spent vacations capturing clouds with her camera.

Other speakers were: Kathy Osterman, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Special Events; Catherine Rondinelli, Executive Director of the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce; Jane Mostyn, Executive Director of the Lake View Chamber of Commerce; Kathy Gemperle, EHS President; friends Tiaa Tuntland, Dee Postilian, Joyce Edwards and myself.

It was interesting to note that no two remembrances were quite the same. Ardell was like a multi-faceted prism of joie de vivre. It is no wonder that recollections of her reflected different shades of the same enchanting colors.

Although I only met Ardell a few short years ago, I came to love her as a friend of many years, it seemed. At the memorial service, I read a poem, of sorts, which I wrote for that special occasion because Ardell considered every day a special occasion, of sorts. It is printed here at the request of those who heard it that day. It isn’t going to win a literary prize, but it comes from my heart. It’s called “THE NEXT TIME.”


I wear a hat
  Or go to the mat
    For a friend, I’ll think of her.

I feel audacious,
  Giving and gracious
    As a friend, I’ll think of her.

I’m graced with welcome empathy
  Instead of empty sympathy
    From a friend, I’ll think of her.

Bold and beautiful,
Seldom demure;
Possessing a smile
That could allure.

Wise and witty,
A master of retort;
Her parties always perfect
Or so the guests report.

Our golden girl,
And fashion gal;
A mighty mouth at auctions
Who was strictly femme fatale.

Quite ambitious and imaginative,
A lady through and through:
Outgoing yet contemplative,
A member of “Who’s Who.”

A person to look up to,
The tallest in the room;
Never short on spirit,
The bane of gloom and doom.

“A penny for your thoughts,” you’d say?
A nickel she’d return;
Shortchanging one on pretence
Wasn’t part of her sojourn.

“Life’s a joy, a royal ball
We come to know and cherish;
Life’s a joy” - she’d said it all -
“We come to know or perish.”

“You only go ‘round once in life,”
She always used to say;
And lived life to its fullest -
I’m glad she passed my way.

I can not touch her

I’ll feel a part
  Of a corner of myself
    That’s called a grieving heart.