2016-12-23 / Front Page

Longtime City Councilor Wayne Nickel passes away

Fond memories by family and friends will continue his legacy
By Diane C. Beaudoin


Wayne Nickel Wayne Nickel Leominster icon Wayne Nickel passed away early Saturday morning, Dec. 17, and the most used word to describe him is a simple one: Gentleman.

Nickel served as longtime Ward 2 councilor, and was 69 years old at the time of his passing.

Melissa Nickel Bible, Wayne’s daughter, remembered her father as one of the most helpful and considerate men she has ever met.

“My dad wanted to serve on the City Council just so he could help the people in Ward 2,” she said. “With him, it was not about what party you belonged to. It was what was best for Leominster.”

Melissa said her dad was much more that a council member. He was the neighbor who anyone could approach and ask for help.

“He loved the small town politics, and never wanted anything more,” she said. “He was always behind the scenes helping out. He didn’t want it any other way. Any person who spoke to him always got his full attention, and he stayed approachable his whole life.

“I really believe his legacy to us is all about service,” she added. “He worked at the hospital for years, served on the council for many many years, and taught myself and my brothers it is all about helping people. My dad was all about family and friends, and helping. It seems all three of us kids followed in his footsteps. I work in human services, one of my brothers is a Leominster firefighter, and my other brother works for the Veteran’s Services in Boston.”

Wayne’s grandson Jacob Bible also wanted to add to the tribute to his grandfather, noting, “He was just a good neighborhood guy. There is a pool in his backyard and in the summer, all the neighbors were welcome to go over and cool off. The kids needed to have a parent with them and he was good with that. We live right next door to him and my grandmother, and I would see my grandfather talking to people everywhere we went. We could be at the grocery store or a local diner and people would always talk to him and he was happy.”

Jeffrey Nickel, Wayne’s son, is also a Leominster firefighter, and fondly remembers his father living a life of service.

“He really loved his family, and always made time for the grandkids,” he said. “My father loved the history of the city of Leominster. He actually did research from the first election of Ward 2 to the present day, and he was very proud to serve. My dad was a very caring person, no matter who you were. He was a choir member at the Pilgrim Congregational Church, which he also loved.”

Jeff continued, “With the council, my father did not always vote the popular vote. He researched the issues, and voted what he felt was right for the city, which did not always go with the popular vote. He did what he thought was right every single time. Right after this last election, he developed some chronic medical issues, but it did not stop him. If he was not physically in the hospital, he went to the meetings. The doctors would tell him to rest, and he would say OK. Then come meeting time, off he went. He prided himself on the importance of his position.”

Mayor Dean Mazzarella praised Nickel’s dedication to the job, and said Nickel served on the council for many years.

“He was there before me, and that’s a long time,” Mazzarella said. “Wayne always gave Ward 2 great representation. He loved to research genealogy, and he had a spectacular singing voice.”

Mazzarella said he knew Nickel had not been feeling well for a while, “but he worked right to the end. He always stayed for all the meetings, which showed how important the job was to him. He really was a true gentleman.”

Melissa said Nickel’s passing “came as a shock. He had been out Christmas shopping and went out for breakfast. He came home and collapsed. We’re all wishing we had at least another week with him being the Christmas season. We are all still in shock.”

Former City Council member Virginia Tocci fondly remembered Nickel as a very “sweet and thoughtful man. On holidays, like Christmas and Valentine’s Day, we would go into the council chambers and there would be a foil wrapped heart or Santa at every seat. No one would admit to doing it. One time, I got to the chamber early and I think I caught him in the act. I said, ‘Gee, I wonder who this is from. Maybe Santa?’ He smiled and said, ‘It could be.’”

Tocci later noted, “I sat next to him for eight years in the meetings. I really didn’t know him until then, and I always found him just a very nice man. He was the Santa Claus of the council, and he will be missed, and I want his wife and family to know he was a very generous and caring man.”

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