Obituaries » Gwendolyn Johnson Nickerson
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June 20, 1929 - October 13, 2018
On October 13, 2018, Gwendolyn Johnson Nickerson, 89, passed away in Bridgeport, WV. Prior to her moving to Bridgeport in 2013, Ms. Nickerson was a long time resident of Salem, Virginia.
A loving mother, Gwendolyn left a legacy of passion for education and reading, love of animals, and a great skill for gardening. Her family moved to Salem, Virginia, following her birth in Alabama on June 20, 1929. She attended Andrew Lewis High School and graduated with a BS in chemistry from Roanoke College. During the Korean War she worked for the Radford Arsenal as a chemist, researching and testing explosives. Ms. Nickerson became a part time teacher at Andrew Lewis High School before teaching general chemistry at Roanoke College as an associate professor. Having earned a Master’s Degree in Education at the University of Virginia, Gwendolyn joined the chemistry department at Virginia Western Community College in 1968. She retired in 1996 following 27 years as a Professor of general and organic chemistry.
Ms. Nickerson loved her cats and dogs. Yard work and long walks maintained her fitness and her flower beds showcased her gardening skills. Possessing an incredible memory she remembered most of the many pupils she taught through the years. Generations of chemistry students recalled her skill set as a teacher. She was always ready to help a motivated student yet had no patience for those lacking self-discipline. A product of “the Great Depression,” Gwendolyn knew hardship and knew how to work hard.
Her keen mind accompanied her to the very end. Even as her health declined, she actively studied her own illness and mastered the art of cross examination of her many fine physicians. In the days prior to her passing, she remained “sharp as a tack” as she would say, and would have been willing and able to assist a confused organic chemistry student regarding “simple” configurations of carbon compounds. She loved to impart her extraordinary knowledge to those willing to learn.
Gwendolyn Nickerson was predeceased by her parents, Mr. Herbert Arthur Johnson and Harriette Bryant Berry. She is survived by two sons, Dr. Michael D. Nickerson Sr. (Dawn) of Lancaster, Va. and Gary W. Nickerson (Karen) of Bridgeport, WV, six grandchildren, Major Michael D. Nickerson, Jr. MD (Bonnie) of Landstuhl, Germany, Brian Nickerson, Esq. (Sarah) of Charleston, WV, Drewry Carter (Russell) of Raleigh, NC, Bradford Nickerson of Herndon, VA, Morgan Caridi (Michael) of Charlotte, NC, and Ensign Beau Nickerson of Pensacola, FL, and six great-grandchildren. Her two sisters, Louise Weaver and Emily Amos, still reside in the Roanoke area, along with several nieces and nephews.
A private memorial service will be held in Virginia at a later date.
The family extends its gratitude to the many health care professionals and service personnel who helped Ms. Nickerson maintain a high quality of life her last few years. She would especially like to thank Dr. Josalyn Mann for her medical expertise, compassionate care and her extraordinary willingness to listen. Also, thank you to the wonderful folks at Amedisys Hospice, to Sarah Craig and her team of gentle and compassionate caretakers. Thank you to her loving niece, Linda, who always kept in touch and kept her connected to her hometown. Finally, thanks to her “new” friends at Maplewood, especially Janey and Sandy, who kept her company to the end.
Cherish education, work hard, love animals, read daily and enjoy gardening. Gwendolyn will be smiling.
Arrangements are being handled by Amos Carvelli Funeral Home.