Robert Lowell Nickelsen passed away peacefully Friday, May 8, 2020, following a long life filled with warm family experiences, dedicated orchard farming and decades of community service that positively shaped Hood River County for generations to come.
A private family memorial service will be held at future date and shared via Anderson’s Tribute Center Facebook live.
Bob was born in Hood River, Ore., on Nov. 29, 1927. Throughout his life, he was an admired and loved son, husband, father, grandfather, orchardist, friend, volunteer firefighter and community leader. Bob’s spirit will live long in the memories of the many people and lives that he touched with a smile on his face, twinkle in his eye and a quiet voice — that while often hard to hear — was always worth listening to for wise counsel and humor.
Bob was a noted pear orchardist, and his farm — Nickelsen Orchards — is well known for fine fruit quality and the tireless innovation that Bob brought to farming after attending then Oregon State College.
Bob was born to Lowell and Martha Nickelsen in Hood River and attended the original Hood River High School, where he played in the school band and met his first wife, Bette Bullis. Bob and Bette had three children, Randalyn (Randy), who proceeded her father in death in 2017, Robert Jr., who lived for only one day; and Chris, who carries on his father’s legacy by running Nickelsen Orchards and his active community engagement. Bette Nickelsen passed away in summer of 1984. Bob married Shirley Winter in February 1987 and together they enjoyed a long and happy later life of orchard work, world travel and family until his passing at Brookside Manor. Prior to marrying Bob, Shirley raised a family with the late Jim Winter.
Bob was a volunteer member of the Westside Fire Department for more than 60 years and served as the department’s fire chief for 19 years and board member for more than a decade. He served multiple terms as an elected commissioner of the board of the Port of Hood River. While on the board, Bob and fellow board members led the port’s acquisition and redevelopment of former Diamond Fruit facilities near downtown Hood River that inspired an expanded economy for the city and region. Bob and port board members also innovatively improved port property along the Columbia River leading to world-class recreation opportunities for thousands and diverse jobs for hundreds of local residents.
Bob served on state and national pear commodity commissions helping to promote the fruit that Hood River is globally known for. While on the board of directors for the Farmers Irrigation District, he worked with other board members to guide creation of a modern water delivery system for farms that also generates and conserves electricity. He was also active in the Hood River Masonic Lodge No 105 A.F. & A.M. and a past grand master.
Bob is survived by his wife, Shirley; son, Chris and his wife, Melanie; step daughters, Joann Frazier and her husband, Randy, and Kathy Bailey and her husband, Alan; son-in-law, Steve Clark; grandchildren, Colin, Conor, Jessa, Dodi, Heidi, Nick and Joe, and seven great grandchildren, all who loved and admired him.
Services for Bob will be shared live via Anderson's Tribute Center Facebook page 2:00 p.m., Saturday, May 16th, 2020. Bob’s reflections of life and service video will be shared after his service on his webguestbook www.AndersonsTributeCenter.com where you are also encouraged to leave a note of condolence for the family.
Contributions in Bob’s memory can be made to the Westside Volunteer Fire Department, 1185 Tucker Road, Hood River, OR 97031; or the Providence Foundation Sunshine Club, 1550 Brookside Drive, Hood River, OR 97031.
The family would like to pass on a special thanks to The Sunshine Group, Providence Brookside Manor, Bobbi Way, Providence Hospice of the Gorge, Dr. Stephen Vogt and the Westside Fire Department.
Arrangements are under the direction of Anderson's Tribute Center (Funerals • Receptions • Cremations), 1401 Belmont Ave., Hood River.