Barbara Nickeson

Barbara Jean Nickeson

Wednesday, November 18th, 1925 - Monday, August 24th, 2020
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Funeral Services for Barbara Nickeson, age 94, of O’Neill will be 2:00 pm Friday, August 28, 2020 at the First United Methodist Church in O’Neill with Pastor Brian Loy officiating. Visitation will be from 5-7 pm Thursday, August 27, 2020 at Biglin’s Mortuary of O’Neill. Burial will be in the O’Neill Cemetery. Barbara passed away on Monday, August 24, 2020 at Arbor Care Center in O’Neill. Memorials may be directed to the family for future designation. Biglin’s Mortuary is in charge of arrangements.

Barbara Jean Groves was born on November 18, 1925, the youngest of five children, to Leona (Wray) Groves and Edward Groves. Barb’s mother (who was 41 years old at the time of Barb’s birth) was planning on giving birth to Barb at home (like Barb’s three brothers and one sister were). Barb’s mother developed preeclampsia and she ended up in Culver Hospital in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Before Barb was born, the doctor said that he could not save both Barb and her mother, but indeed he did save both of them.

At home, Barb joined her oldest brother, Paul, her older sister, Frances, her next oldest brother, Bill, and her youngest brother, Bob. Barb lived with her family on the farm about seven miles from Whitesville, Indiana. Barb and her family attended church in Whitesville, which was just a little village with a post office and a First Christian Church, where Barb was baptized. When Barb became school aged, she attended school in Whitesville.

When Barb was in sixth grade, her family moved to New Ross, Indiana. She attended school there and graduated in 1943. Of course, during this time, World War II was going on. She hardly drove to school because of gas rationing and rode the school bus nearly every day all through school. Riding the school bus was the best part of her day as she could talk and giggle with other students. Barb would also talk about the rationing of groceries and sugar. She talked about how her mother buying bread from the grocery store was such a treat, since her mother almost always homemade bread. The family butchered their own meat – everything from beef, to pork, and to chicken. Her father had a smoke house in which he smoked his own hams and homemade bacon. Barb talked about how it was such a treat to have lunch meat bought at the grocery store, since she had so much homegrown meat.

Barb talked about how junior high and high school at New Ross were some of the funniest times of her life. She especially enjoyed the band trips that she took on (where else?) but on the school bus. Barb started playing the trumpet in 6th and 7th grade. She later switched to playing the coronet. Even in her later years, Barb always attended concerts at the O’Neill High School and the Community Band if she could, especially if she knew they would be playing marching songs.

Barb belonged to the 4-H Club in grade school and high school. The baking and food preparation classes of 4-H were what she especially enjoyed. She was always quick to remark how she won a purple ribbon on a cake she baked that went all the way to the state fair!

After graduating from high school, Barb’s first job was working at an Army shirt factory in Crawfordsville and she stayed in an apartment in Crawfordsville. It was an assembly line job and Barb’s job was sewing on Army shirt cuffs. Barb left that job and got a job at Allison Brothers (whose parent company was GE) in Indianapolis, Indiana. Barb’s job was delivering mail all day via riding a big three-wheel bicycle from one building to another. Each building had a big doorbell that Barb would push and the door would open and in would go Barb with her mail in her backet on the bike. Barb would ride the Army bus to Indianapolis and back home again – a distance of 45 miles.

After working at Allison Brothers for almost a year, Barb quit that job. In the summer of 1944, Barb decided to see the wide county and went to live with her sister, Francis, and her husband in Oceanview, Virginia, a suburb of Norfolk, Virginia. There was a boardwalk all along the ocean at Oceanview. Barb really enjoyed living there. Barb’s sister Frances helped Barb get a job at a novelty shop in Oceanview. Also, at this novelty shop was a lady tailor who made dress uniform for Navy sailors. So Navy sailors frequented this shop often.

Barb’s sister, Francis worked at a night club called Tiny Town. One night, Barb decided to tag along with her sister. There were a couple of Navy shore patrol guys that Barb knew from the novelty shop. One of the Navy shore patrol guys asked Barb if she had a boyfriend. Barb replied, ‘No’. The Navy shore patrol guy said he had been at the night club several times and he had observed Orville Nickeson there several times and thought that he would be a nice guy for Barb to meet. The Navy shore patrol guy asked Barb if she would like to meet him. Of course, Barb said yes. Lo and behold, Orville did walk into Tiny Town that night with a friend and the Navy guy asked Orville if he would like to meet a nice girl. Orville replied yes. When the Navy guy approached Orville, he thought he was in trouble at first. Orville and Barb hit if off right away and Orville asked Barb if she wanted to go to a Squadron Party that night and Barb said she would go. A few days later, Orville came into the novelty shop and asked Barb out for a date. Their first date consisted of going to a park and doing the second most favorite thing Barb loved– swinging. Her first favorite thing to do was riding on the school bus. The rest is history.

Shortly afterwards, Barb’s sister, Frances has a heart attack while smoking and the cigarette caught her chair on fire, along with her curtains and Frances burned to death. Because of Frances death, Barb no longer had a place to live so Barb quit her job at the novelty shop and went back to live with her parents in Crawfordsville, IN. While Barb was in Crawfordsville, Orville became increasingly lonesome for the ‘nice girl’ he had met at Tiny Town and he really started missing Barb. To tell the truth, Orville had fallen in love with Barb. Orville called Barb and asked her to marry him. In the meantime, Orville’s squadron had, however moved to Providence, Rhode Island so Orville was stationed there. That didn’t deter Barb. After accepting Orville’s proposal, Barb then had to ride the train from Indianapolis to Providence to meet Orville. Orville met Barb at the train station with his friend, Russ and his wife Bobbi Middleton. Orville had arranged for a minister to marry him and Barb. Russ was their best man and his wife, Bobbi, was maid of honor. The date was January 17, 1945.

Shortly after that, one of Orville’s friends came home on leave to Providence and his friend’s parents threw a coming home party for him. At the party, it was discovered that Barb and Orville had just gotten married so it turned into a wedding party as well. At this party were a couple by the name of Mr. and Mrs. Blair. It was at this party that Mr. and Mrs. Blair offered Barb and Orville a room at their house to live. They also offered Orville’s friends, Russ and Bobbi, a room as well. Since Orville was going to be shipped out to sea soon, it was such an act of kindness that the newly married bride, Barb, had a room to stay in Providence. It was truly a Godsend! The Blairs were a French-Canadian couple who always said that the reason they opened up their home was because they admired men who were fighting for their country and they hoped that someday someone would treat their sons like they had treated Orville, Barb, Russ, and Bobbi. Not only did the Blairs offer them a place to live, but they cooked supper for them also. Barb always spoke highly of them. While in Providence, Barb and her friend Bobbi got a job on base while Orville was out to sea.

In April of 1945, the Navy sent Orville to Detroit, Michigan and Barb and Orville left Providence. Sadly, Barb and Orville never saw Russ and Bobbi again. Barb then moved to New Market, Indiana to be with her patents. The war was getting over and Orville was honorably discharged from the Navy as an Aviation Machinist’s mate Second Class in October of 1945.

Orville and Barb came to live in Beatrice, NE in 1945. Orville had been born and raised close to Beatrice and Orville somehow talked Barb into moving to Nebraska. Barb always told the story of her first impression of Nebraska, shortly after Orville and Barb were married. It was in the spring of the year and everyone knows how dirt roads can get in the spring in Nebraska. The roads were very muddy. There were no asphalt roads back in those days. The roads were impossible for automobiles to drive in the spring. Orville’s parents had to come in a team of horses and wagon to meet Orville and his new bride and take them to their place. She had never seen anything like it! She thought Nebraska was really in the ‘Boonies’. It was way different than Indiana. Indiana had nice roads and the farms were close together. Barb started wondering what she had gotten herself into.

It was in Beatrice that their first son, Jerry was born in November 1947. In January of 1952 another son, Randin was born. While Orville worked at a filling station for his brother, Roy, Barb kept the home fires burning and took care of their two sons. It was always important to Barb to have three meals prepared every day for her family. Orville got the break of his life when he learned that Nebraska Public Power District was looking for a meter reader. Orville applied for the job and much to his excitement and surprise, he got the job in 1950.

This job at Nebraska Public Power took the family to Scottsbluff, NE in 1957. In Scottsbluff, Barb enjoyed another one of her favorite things to do: socializing. She met many friends, including their backyard neighbors, Jim and Frieda Spencer. Barb and Frieda would meet in their back yards and talk daily over the fence. They remained lifelong friends.

In January of 1960, Nebraska Public Power District transferred Orville to O’Neill, NE to become the district storekeeper for Nebraska Public Power. So, Orville and Barb, along with their two sons moved to O’Neill. Even though Barb loved Scottsbluff, she quickly became adjusted to O’Neill. Barb started working for the JCPenney in O’Neill shorty after moving here, a position she worked at for 24 years. She always talked so fondly of her memories and friends that she made at JCPenney, including Belva Schwanke, Laura Schmitz, Barb Clements, Irene McKay, Charlotte Larson, Esther Lindberg, Mrs. Pruss, and many others. Barb was always a social person and her family became members of the First United Methodist Church, she joined the United Methodist Women, bowled on a bowling league, was a member of the Dot Club, attended visually impaired meetings, was part of the friendship circle, served on the election board of the REA, was a member of the Bridge Club, and later became a member of the Red Hat Society. She did this while making sure there was always a meal on the table, whether breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Orville retired in 1983 from Nebraska Public Power District and Barb retired from JCPenney in 1984. Even before they retired, Barb and Orville bought a cabin at North Point at Fort Randall in approximately 1979 and on the weekends, they would go there and fish. They spent nearly every weekend at the cabin on the Missouri River fishing for the last 13 years. So, Barb and Orville fished together for over 17 years. Barb said it was probably the happiest and the most fun time of their lives. After Orville passed away in September of 1996, the last 24 years of Barb’s life was spent socializing, shopping, and traveling. Barb’s sons would take her to the cabin at Fort Randall whenever they could and she would go fishing with them. She went on bus tours to Las Vegas, NV, New Orleans, LA, and several trip to the Nebraska State Fair. She even loved just going to downtown O’Neill and visiting with people.

Barb also loved sports, especially watching Nebraska Football and Nebraska Volleyball on TV.

Barbara had seen many changes in her 94 years of life. Barb went through the Great Depression of the 1930’s, World War II, leaving her family in Indiana and coming to the State of Nebraska with her new husband, Orville Nickeson, surviving breast cancer in 2000, having a hip replaced in 2003, and macular degeneration. Barb always said she was a ‘fraidy cat’, but she showed lots of courage and determination through her lifetime. Barb was never afraid to step out in faith and try something new. She was dancing on the floor with her grandson, Daniel, at the age of 82, and she was swimming in her granddaughters swimming pool at 83. Barb lived by herself and took care of herself for 24 years, until her last three and half months of life. What true grit she had! Barb passed peaceably and met her personal Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Monday, August 24, 2020.

Barbara is survived by two sons, Jerry (Donna) Nickeson of O’Neill, NE, and Randy Nickeson of Plattsmouth, NE; five grandchildren: Erica (Trevor) Haake of Grand Island, NE, Daniel (Dana) Nickeson of Norfolk, NE, Brett Nickeson of Omaha, NE, Eric (Alyse) Nickeson of Kansas City, MO, and Jamie (Randy) Null of Plattsmouth, NE; five great-grandchildren: Hadley, Ira, and Quincy Haake of Grand Island, NE, Davaney Nickeson of Norfolk, NE, Jace Null, and another one on the way of Plattemouth, NE; sister-in-law Margaret Groves (age 98) of Crawfordsville, IN; as well as many nieces and nephews.

Barbara is preceded in death by her parents, Edward and Leona Groves; her husband, Orville Nickeson in 1996; her daughter-in-law, Vicky Nickeson; her three brothers Paul Groves, Bill Groves, and Bob Groves; and her sister, Frances.

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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Thursday, August 27th, 2020 | 5:00pm - 7:00pm
    Thursday, August 27th, 2020 5:00pm - 7:00pm
    Biglin's Mortuary
    111 North 4th Street
    O'Neill, NE 68763
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
  • Barbara's Funeral

    Friday, August 28th, 2020 | 2:00pm
    Friday, August 28th, 2020 2:00pm
    First United Methodist Church in O'Neill
    Address Not Available
    Rev Brian Loy
  • Interment

    Friday, August 28th, 2020 | 3:00pm
    Friday, August 28th, 2020 3:00pm
    O'Neill Cemetery
    Liberty Ave and North Jefferson Street
    O'Neill, NE 68763
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Private Condolence
Love : Mike, Carrie & Thatcher Whiting sent flowers to the family of Barbara Jean Nickeson.
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Bob Heese

Posted at 06:28pm
Jerry and Randy, my Sympathy to both of you and your family's. Bob Heese

Gene Kelly

Posted at 01:47pm
My condolences to Barb's family. Such a nice lady, that will be missed by all.

Louise Sparks

Posted at 10:51pm
My deepest sympathy to all of Barb's family. I know she will be greatly missed. May all your precious memories help you through this difficult time. God Bless you all.

Dennis & Roxanne Ryan

Posted at 12:09pm
Our sympathy and prayers to the family.
Dennis & Roxanne Ryan

Love : Mike, Carrie & Thatcher Whiting

Posted at 09:26am
Barb was a special lady and will be greatly missed. Thoughts and prayers for comfort and peace.
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