Dr. Gary P. Nickel Obituary
Dr. Gary P. Nickel, 84, of Independence, Kansas passed away May 26, 2019 peacefully in his sleep. Gary is survived by his wife of 59 years, Judy Nickel, and three children, Graig (Jaime) Nickel of Lawrence, Kansas; Todd (Stephanie) Nickel of Tyler, Texas; and Alisa Nickel Ehrlich of Wichita, Kansas; 9 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild.
Gary was born December 11, 1934 to Elizabeth Regier and Gerhard ("George") P. Nickel in Hillsboro, Kansas. He was the youngest of 6 children and enjoyed a close relationship with his siblings who predeceased him. He attended Lehigh schools and Newton High School. Gary attended college at the University of Kansas, Wichita State University and the University of Southern California before attending the Los Angeles College of Optometry. Gary also served in the U.S. Army and Army reserves. Gary met Judy Nickel in the summer of 1958 and on their first date they learned they shared not only the same last name, but the same birth date, though Gary was five years older. They lived in Southern California as a young married couple while Gary studied optometry. They decided to return to Kansas when an opportunity arose to establish an optometric practice in Independence, Kansas in 1965.
Gary practiced optometry for 49 years, until his retirement in January 2014. During that time he was active in the Kansas State Optometric Association, serving as its President; as well as the Heart of America Contact Lens Society, serving on its Board and as its President. He also participated in a mission to Panama with Kansas Volunteers Optometric Services to Humanity ("VOSH") providing optometric services to those in need. Gary loved his work and enjoyed his patients. Gary was also active in the Independence community where he was a member of the Rotary and Optimist clubs and Chamber of Commerce. He also served for many years on the Park Board, including service as its President, where he helped spearhead the expansion of the Riverside Park and Zoo. Gary was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Independence until his death.
Gary was a devoted family man who loved his family dearly. He was a consummate gentleman and enjoyed conversations with friends, patients and new acquaintances. Gary was known for his generous nature, love of people, and infectious smile. He had a passion for cars, particularly antique cars and red sports cars, and loved attending car shows and auctions. He enjoyed summers at Grand Lake with his family and traveled extensively with Judy and their children.
A celebration of Gary's life will be held at the First United Methodist Church in Independence on Saturday June 1, 2019 at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations be made to FORPAZ (Friends of Riverside Park and Zoo).