Robert Edward Nicklos
Robert (Bob) Edward Nicklos was an exemplar wrapped in grace and kindness: a teacher, principal and mentor to generations of children; Photographer of weddings; doer of community service; champion of Pittsburgh and his beloved Steelers, believer of possibilities, protector of family -- and faithful servant of God.
Bob was born on July 16, 1937, in Pittsburgh, the third of four siblings born to the late Edward and Arlene Nicklos. He departed to take residence in his eternal home on Thursday, July 30, 2020.
He represented the best of the hometown public school system he would come to serve: a standout student at Woolslair Elementary, Arsenal Junior High School and Schenley High School. Upon graduation, he attended the University of Pittsburgh where he received a Bachelor's Degree and Masters Degree in Education.
Bob believed in the promise of children, believed that greatness was often born and built in the classrooms of caring teachers. His lifelong pursuit to be an educator led him on a remarkable career as teacher, team Leader, Teacher Corps Director and Principal. He began his career at Herron Hill Jr. High School as a Social Studies Teacher where he helped to ground students with history and shape their worldviews. But Bob also knew he could help students even more on a larger platform as Vice Principal and Principal.
After a brief stint as the Director of Teacher Core Program he went on to become the Principal of Brashear High School and ended his decades-long education career as the Principal of Schenley High School. The impact that he had on his students, faculty, parents associations, and the larger communities will serve as his legacy. He fought endlessly for the rights of his students and loved them dearly.
Bob’s love for music manifested in his accomplishments as a drummer. He was a part of the Schenley High School and University of Pittsburgh Marching Bands. The beats never left him. You could always see him tapping the table or his foot whenever the music felt just right.
His passion for photography gave way to a new business venture as a wedding photographer in the 1970s. He believed perfectly captured moments on the first day of a union were the ultimate gift. For decades, Bob documented the love in the air. You rarely saw Bob without a camera in his hand -- or his bride by his side.
The year was 1955. The place was the University of Pittsburgh. It was freshman year and the first day of Spanish class. The stunning Lee Bertha West, all the way from the Mississippi Delta, was already seated in class, ready to continue her Spanish studies. In walked Bob, late and announcing his presence with a thunderous introduction, “I am Roberto,” he said, dramatically rolling the “R.” Lee whirled around to get a look at the young man interrupting class. She thought to herself, “who is the guy with this bad accent?” It wasn’t long before he became her guy. He was instantly drawn to her beauty and charm; she was drawn to his tall stature and warm personality. On July 16, 1960 they wed, the beginning of a loving six-decade partnership. To this union was born their only and loving daughter, Rae Elayne in 1966. Theirs was a whirlwind romance that took them from the Pitt campus to a home life in Pittsburgh to international travel to South Florida where they lived in retirement.
And when Bob surveyed his 83 years, he pointed to his two greatest achievements: his marriage and daughter Rae. They had an unbreakable bond, built upon long days at the park, gourmet meals and endless conversation. Rae, whom he nicknamed "Monster and Chief" still holds the fondest memory of peering out the window at her great-grandparents home after school waiting for her dad to arrive. He was always right on time. Bob infused Rae with his very best traits and unflappable advice and in return, she became the accomplished daughter he always dreamed of. She was truly the apple of his eye.
Bob believed community service was a civic responsibility. In April 1956, he pledged Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Omicron Chapter. He became a life member and member of the Alpha Lambda Omicron Chapter in Pittsburgh, PA. Additionally he was a member of the Masons, Mt. Moriah Lodge #36, F. and A.M. and the Emanons Inc. He never failed to give back to the community, and to promote the lives of others.
He loved the Lord. In July, 1950 he was baptized at the Sixth Mount Zion Church. When his family moved to the Garfield section of Pittsburgh, they changed membership to St. Paul Baptist Church. He was instrumental as a Trustee and Church Treasurer in purchasing a new building for the church on one of the most prime real estate properties in the city. He invested countless hours negotiating this deal and ensuring the church’s mortgage was paid off. Everybody knows Bob was not an ordained minister but everybody also remembers Bob’s way with words and his preaching the gospel of financial responsibility. In fact, when he stepped up to the podium, everybody opened their wallets.
Bob was a dedicated family man and leaves to mourn his devoted wife of 60 years, Lee Nicklos; his daughter, Rae Nicklos (David Welch), his brother Richard (Patricia) Nicklos; numerous nieces and nephews, countless godchildren, and a community that will forever cherish his memory.
If you have ever spent time with Bob, then you know his guiding mantra was five unforgettable words repeated to countless people along his journey: "Always Remember and Never Forget." That now resonates in our hearts. We will always remember Robert Edward Nicklos and never forget how all the beautiful ways he touched our lives.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made to:
St. Paul Baptist Church (Pittsburgh, PA)
C/O Rae Nicklos
4907 Pelican Manor
Coconut Creek, FL 33073
or Paypal - Raenick@bellsouth.net
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