Rev. James “Jim” A. Nickles, 73, Frankfort, formerly of Elwood, passed away Monday, June 10, 2013 in his home surrounded by family following a valiant battle with cancer for more than two years. He was born November 1, 1939 in Kirkland, the son of Samuel F. and Helen L. (Myers) Nickles. On April 10, 1977, he married his second wife, Ella M. Myers, who survives. Jim believed that events big and small happen for a reason. He understood that life is lived in a series of present moments that should be appreciated in good times and bad. To the end, he never let his illness spoil his spirit. He had made his peace with God and was ready to go when called. Following his graduation from Wendell L. Willkie High School in Elwood, Jim served in the U.S. Air Force from 1959 to 1963 stateside during the Vietnam War. After being honorably discharged, he landed a job as a fork truck driver at Chrysler in Kokomo. He retired 30 years later as an electrician. Jim also attended Chrysler Training Institute and Indiana University in Kokomo. He earned his theological certification through the Course of Study Seminary affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Jim was a member of the Elwood Ministerial Association; former scout leader in Elwood for many years; served with the Salvation Army in Frankfort; former member of the Frankfort Moose Lodge; and former member of the Fowlerton Lions Club. Jim also had a passion for mission trips through the United Methodist Church. As a child, Jim shared a house in Elwood with three brothers and three sisters. His childhood experiences of living on very little inspired him to enter the ministry. Jim struggled in school, but he did not let that stop him from learning from the Bible. While at work on breaks, he would listen to a recording of the Bible being read while following along. When he encountered a word he could not pronounce, he repeated it until he could. He eventually gained an extensive knowledge of the Scriptures. In 1982, Jim entered the ministry, but he had one condition. “I told God it would be anything except preaching in front of people,” he said in an interview prior to his death. He laughed recalling that stipulation because for the next 30 years he gave hundreds of sermons in front of people. He never lost the butterflies in stomach, but God helped him overcome his fear each Sunday. In all, Jim preached at nine United Methodist Churches throughout central Indiana. He spent the past seven years as pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Elwood. Jim and his wife loved children so in 1983 they began accepting foster children into their home. Over the years, they cared for 57 children, including two they adopted. Tragic car crashes in 1992 and 1994 claimed the lives of two children, one stepson and one grandchild. He considered cancer a walk in the park compared to the pain brought about by those sudden losses. Jim never lost his sense of humor. Nearing the end, he joked that he had done everything in life that he had wanted except own a Model T Ford. He said no one would ever buy him one.
His family includes wife of more than 36 years, Ella M. Nickles of Frankfort; 3 children, Tim (wife Ann) Nickles of Arcanum, Ohio, Amber (husband Coty) Robey of Frankfort, and Elizabeth Nickles of Frankfort; brother, Bill Nickles; 3 sisters, Georgia Cole and Donna Chambliss both of Elwood, and Helen Gore of Marion; 16 grandchildren, Kevin (wife Shadi) Lilly, Justin Parker, Heidi (husband Chris) Updegraff, Anthony Nickles, Adam Nickles, Christy Tarter, Amanda Tarter, Samantha (husband Craig) Fields, Michael (wife Olivia) Childs, Justine Thomas, Caydence Robey, Jaxon Robey, Devin Dubree, Cassidy Dubree, Noah Dubree, and Payton Dubree; 14 great-grandchildren, Ava Lilly, River Lilly, Kendra Parker, Cole Parker, Gage Updegraff, Paige Updegraff, Tru Updegraff, Luke Fields, Alex Fields, Alana Fields, Alysa Fields, Leelynd Bodine-Childs, Hanna Starks, and Halie Starks; many foster children; and numerous nieces and nephews. Jim was preceded in death by his parents; 3 children, Martisha Parker, Anna Tarter and Earl Childs; grandson, Adam Parker; and two brothers, Curtis Nickles and Samuel Nickles.
Jim will have two funerals. The first service will be held at 5:00 PM on Thursday, June 13, 2013 at St. Matthews United Methodist Church in Frankfort with Pastors Jake Fisher and Mike Lawson officiating. Visitation will be held on Thursday from 2 to 5 PM prior to the funeral at the church. A second funeral service will be conducted at 1:00 PM on Friday, June 14, 2013 at Copher-Fesler-May Funeral Home in Elwood with District Superintendent Michelle Cobb, Rev. Chris Dare, and Rev. Glen Davis officiating. Visitation will be held from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM prior to the funeral in Elwood at the funeral home. Burial will follow in Forrestville Cemetery in Summitville, where military honors will be conducted by the U.S. Air Force and the Elwood V.F.W. & American Legion Honor Guards. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society (designated for Melanoma of the Organs) or the St. Matthews United Methodist Church Youth Group. Online condolences: www.copherfeslermay.com.