Cover photo for John Nicksic's Obituary
1941 John 2019

John Nicksic

October 4, 1941 — January 13, 2019

John Michael Nicksic, born October 4, 1941 in Gary, Indiana passed peacefully at home in Santa Fe, NM on Sunday, January 13, 2019. He is survived by his wife of 19 years Catherine Donavon, also of Santa Fe. He was proceeded in death by his parents, Louis J. Nicksic and Katherine Denona Nicksic, and sister Mary Louise Nicksic Wrage. Other survivors include: brothers Louis (Jacqueline) Nicksic of Bellingham, WA and Milan Nicksic of Sparks, NV; step-children Franklin (Wendy) O’Laughlin of Cary, IL, Megan O’Laughlin of Santa Fe, NM; step-grandchildren Katelyn and Wyatt O’Laughlin of Cary, IL; nieces Kathy Wrage Morris, Lela Nicksic Davidson and Karin Nicksic Willroth; nephews Theodore (Ted) Wrage and Lodei Nicksic; and his beloved dogs Pedro and Carmella

John grew up in Grand Beach, MI and graduated from New Buffalo High School. He attended Wayne State University in Detroit, MI where he studied sociology and helped found one of the nation’s first skydiving clubs. He later enlisted in the U.S. Army, served as a Social Work Tech in the U.S. and Korea, was a rifle and carbine expert, received the Good Conduct Medal, and was honorably discharged in June of 1964 at the rank of Sgt (P)E5.

Following the service, he lived in El Paso, TX. He was briefly married to Mary Eleanor (Elmer) Tulloch who remained a lifelong friend. After working as an advertising executive for Household Finance, he received a grant in 1968 from the Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, NM and spent a year there as writer-in-residence. He later moved to Los Angeles, CA where he began his career as a freelance copy-writer specializing in direct mail marketing.

In 1992, he moved to Santa Fe where he continued his business. He met his wife Catherine at La Casa Sena Cantina where she worked as a singing server. They were married in the Casa Sena courtyard on September 18, 1999.

John was an extraordinary and adventurous man. Along with skydiving, he spent time in Mexico learning to bullfight, loved motorcycling and sail boating, took up ballet at age 40 studying and performing for eight years, and enjoyed playing high stakes poker.

He was a brilliant guy (member of Mensa) with a wealth of knowledge on topics from art and theatre to science and the paranormal. He was endlessly curious about all facets of life.

He loved bright, creative people and was a mentor and generous supporter of artists, dancers, singers, actors and writers. He was also a patron to arts organizations including the Santa Fe Opera, Santa Fe Stages, the Santa Fe Playhouse and other theatre, music and dance companies from Brooklyn to L.A. He loved taking theatre trips to New York and spending a week taking in new plays, visiting museums, and shopping for artwork. He had a wonderful, eclectic collection of art, much of it by local artists, potters and sculptors.

John’s passing has left a big space in the lives of his friends and family. He did not designate any particular organization for donations, but if you would like to do something in his honor he would have loved people to buy a piece of art from a local artist, eat at a local restaurant and leave an obscenely large tip, or make a donation to a local theatre company. He believed in paying it forward. . .so do that.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John Nicksic, please visit our flower store.


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