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NICKEL STEWART (STEW)
STEWART (STEW) NICKEL
Stewart (Stew) Nickel, a long time resident of Chagrin Falls, passed away in his home of natural causes on Thursday morning, February 11, 2010. While his health had been deteriorating in recent weeks, his death was sudden and unexpected. He was 83.
The loving and devoted son of William O. Nickel and Ellen Newman Nickel, Stewart was born November 2, 1926 in Detroit, Michigan. He was raised in Detroit and Highland Park, graduating from Highland Park High School at the age of 16 in 1943.
Stew's childhood involved many hours of playing and practicing piano. With the guidance of his two brothers he became very accomplished, eventually studying and teaching piano at the Detroit Institute of Music. He performed Chopin's March Militaire at his high school graduation.
Stewart's advanced education began at Wayne State University in 1944, was interrupted by 17 months of service to the United States Army guarding the Truman Whitehouse, and culminated in 1948 and 1949 with a Bachelors of Science in Chemistry and a Masters of Science in Organic Chemistry.
In 1950 Stewart was admitted to the University of Michigan Medical School. He recounted that he had been rejected by Wayne State University Medical School, but would then wryly acknowledge that this ironic twist in admissions turned out to be perhaps the best possible break of his career. Thus was the genesis of Stew's life-long devotion to the Michigan Wolverines. Family and friends have "enjoyed" through these many years a wide range of Michigan regalia, football Saturday activities revolving around Michigan game times, and faded and stained M-Go-Blue apparel. In Stewart's memory the U of M flag continues to fly at his home.
After graduation from medical school Stewart began his residency in Michigan at Wayne County Hospital, and then on to Henry Ford Hospital for 10 years. The sudden and early loss of his mother in 1956 moved Stewart toward specialties in internal medicine and the emerging field of cardiology. During Dr. Nickel's period at Henry Ford Hospital he published several medical research articles that were highly acclaimed by medical schools and physicians from around the world.
Stewart spent the last six years of his time at Henry Ford Hospital in the Department of Preventive Medicine, which included providing examinations of many well known public figures, William Clay Ford and Henry Ford II, among others.
In 1966 Stewart and his family moved to Ohio where he accepted a position with the Renner Clinic of Mayfield Heights. Stewart played an integral role in developing a new hospital, eventually known to be Hillcrest Hospital. Dr. Nickel was one of Hillcrest Hospital's founding cardiologists, and the first director of its intensive Coronary Care Unit.
As Hillcrest evolved, Stewart in collaboration with his wife Ginny, established and developed one of North East Ohio's leading private cardiology practices. Stewart was innovative and bold in investing in and applying the latest technologies of the day. Some noted accomplishments include: his collaboration with Schwinn to use exercise bikes for EKG stress testing; and being among the first private practice physicians in Ohio to provide Holter monitoring devices and echo cardiograph testing in a private practice office.
But more important and enduring to Stewart than his medical career was his devotion to his family. He married Virginia (Ginny) Reich, the love of his life, and together they raised three children and moved to Chagrin Falls, Ohio, where they resided for more than 30 years.
Like many Chagrin parents, Stew and Ginny were ever active and supportive of any activity their children pursued. They embraced and enjoyed the traditions of Chagrin Falls and its Friday night football games, and many high school choir and band concerts, and musicals. They even became fans of Chagrin's summer softball adult league. Ginny and Stew were avid participants in the Cheville Dinner & Dance Club. As Stewart's professional success endured he was thoughtful about laying a foundation for enjoying their retirement years. Tragically, as Ginny and Stew were fully reaching this threshold, Ginny's Alzheimer's disease prevented them from enjoying the fruits of their hard work together as they had long planned.
In addition to Stew's family and professional life he had a variety of eclectic interests: one of which was supporting local and regional artists. In addition, he enjoyed hosting grand parties to bring people together. He was a charter and long-time member of the Chagrin Valley Racquet Club, the Hillbrook Club, and an honorary member of the Trout Club. In Stewart's last years he was a weekly patron of local restaurants where he developed many sincere and special relationships with his servers, often taking in more human interaction than food.
In retirement, Stewart's years were devoted to caring for Ginny, contributing to a variety of charities and organizations, and helping his family, friends and acquaintances in need. As in his professional life, his commitment to helping people and making a difference were central to who he was as a person. Over the years, Stewart reached out to countless people in need, leaving behind a legacy of opportunity for people to better their lives.
Stewart is survived by: his three children and their spouses — Charles and Elizabeth of Aurora, Ohio; Thomas and Deborah of Wheaton, Illinois; and Susan Nickel-Schindewolf and Mark Schindewolf of Copley, Ohio; seven grandchildren — Courtney, Taylor and Emily of Stow, Ohio; Allyson and Stephanie of Wheaton, Illinois; and Stewart Tyler and Andrew of Copley, Ohio; Betty Evans, longtime family friend of Bainbridge, Ohio; his beloved dog, Zoey; nieces, nephews and many dear friends.
Calling hours will be on February 19 from 3-6 PM at the Stroud-Lawrence Funeral Home, 95 South Franklin Street, Chagrin Falls, Ohio 44022.
Funeral services will be held on February 20 at 9:00 AM at the Federated Church, 76 Bell Street, Chagrin Falls, Ohio 44022.
Stewart's final resting place will be at the Evergreen Hill Cemetery, Chagrin Falls, Ohio.
Charitable contributions would be sincerely appreciated. Contributions may be made in memory of Dr. Stewart Nickel to The City Mission of Cleveland, The Alzheimer's Association or The American Cancer Society.
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