Albert “Ab” Owen Nicholas died peacefully in his sleep on Aug. 4, 2016 at the age of 85. Preceded in death by his parents William “Bill” Joseph Nicholas and Ruby Elizabeth McEachran, and his brother, William “Bill” Alan Nicholas and his wife, Lois. He is survived by his beloved wife of 64 years, Nancy Johnson Nicholas (Hartland, WI), his loving children, Lynn Sharon Nicholas (Mequon, WI), Susan Nicholas Fasciano (Glenview, IL) and David Owen Nicholas (Lori) (Mequon, WI), seven adoring grandchildren Kathryn “Katie” Nicholas, Nicholas “Nick” Fasciano, John “Jake” Linden Clavette, Samuel “Sam” Steven Clavette, Alexander “Alex” Owen Fasciano, Joseph “Joe” Nicholas Clavette, Maxwell “Max” Owen Clavette and four grand-dogs, Maddie, Koko, Mollie, and Oliver. Dear brother of Daniel Judd Nicholas (Ruth), and brothers-in-law, Silas “Hap” Gaylord Johnson (Marie) and David Linden Johnson (Mel). Many nieces, nephews, cousins, other family members, dear friends and colleagues and the entire Badger Nation will lovingly remember Ab.
Born on January 24, 1931 in Rockford, Illinois, he graduated from Rockford West high school (1948), and the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a BS in Economics (1952) and an MBA (1955). He served in ROTC in both High School and College, serving in the Army’s Transportation Division from 1952 to 1954. Ab was a 3-year letter winner in basketball, earning two All-Big 10 team awards as well as being named to Look Magazine’s 2nd team All-American.
With a passion for investments and helping others, after working for Northwest Insurance Company and the M&I Bank, he founded the Nicholas Co. in 1967 launching his flagship Nicholas Fund in 1969, growing the company’s total assets to $5 billion under management. He also served on many civic boards. Ab was a prominent philanthropist creating the Nicholas Family Foundation, Ab Nicholas Scholarship Foundation, Church of the Atonement Foundation, Samaritan Foundation for Church and Family Wellness and the Williams Heart Foundation in addition to supporting the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, Brightstar Wisconsin Foundation, Nicholas Center for the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, and Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens. Believing that his education and basketball career at the University of Wisconsin-Madison allowed him to be successful in life, he gave back to his alma mater by creating many scholarship opportunities, improving many facilities, serving on many boards including the Board of Regents, while cheering on his beloved Badgers.
Ab will be remembered for his sense of integrity, humility, laughter and compassion, and being a fierce competitor on the basketball court and in the investment world. He will also be remembered for his deep faith and his love and support of the Episcopal Church. Ab’s greatest gifts in life were his wife, children and grandchildren of whom he was very proud.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Nicholas Family Foundation, 10309 N. River Road, Mequon, WI 53092, which will in turn distribute all donations to Ab’s favorite charitable causes.
A Memorial Mass for Door County friends will be held on Monday, August 22, 2016 at 10 am at the Church of the Atonement in Fish Creek, WI.