Margaret Christie Nicolais passed away peacefully on Wednesday morning in her sleep at home. She was 94 years old and lived a full and accomplished life. Margaret was pre-deceased by her loving husband of 63 years, Michael Nicolais. Margaret was raised on Staten Island, NY, and graduated from Wagner College in 1949 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration. She then attended Rush Presbyterian School of Nursing in Chicago, Illinois, where she earned her RN degree. She practiced at Marine Hospital on Staten Island, which was one of the largest public health hospitals in the country at the time.
While at Wagner College, she met her future husband, Michael, but she continued with her education in nursing before returning to Staten Island. They were married in 1953 and had two children on Staten Island while she worked at the hospital. They then decided to move to Chatham Borough, NJ, where they had two more children and raised their family, three girls and one boy.
Immediately, she got involved, not only with her children’s schools but also the community. Margaret believed it was important to be a part of the community in which you lived, and to do that, she committed a lot of her time and energy, as well as financial support.
Margaret was active and involved in local politics in Chatham Borough, New Jersey, for nearly 25 years. She was first elected and served on the Chatham Board of Education and later to the Borough’s Council. While serving on the Borough Council, she was the liaison with the police and fire departments.
She also volunteered her time and skills to a number of philanthropic causes, primarily local area non-profits related to education and health. In the area of education, she served on the Board of ECLC, a school for developmentally challenged children in Chatham. She served as a board member and major fundraiser for the Chatham Library. She also worked with the Girl Scouts, first as a leader and then as a fundraiser for the Morris County Girl Scout Headquarters.
In the area of health care, her involvement spanned a wide variety of organizations and roles from the Green Hill Retirement Home for Women in East Orange to her volunteer work at Summit’s Overlook Hospital and Morristown Medical Center. For Rush University Medical Center in Chicago where she went to Nursing School, she was an alumni fundraiser. She also continued to participate in a multi-decade long cancer research study at University Hospital in Newark helping to discover the effect of diet and nutrition on various cancers.
Margaret was on the Wagner alumni board and involved in fundraising for many years, including chairing the fundraising efforts for the class of 1949. In appreciation and recognition of her and Mike’s efforts, the business school of Wagner College was named the Nicolais School of Business in their honor. She and Mike were given honorary degrees from Wagner College in 2014 for their dedication and respect for the education they received during their college days.
She was a member of the Stanley Congregational Church in Chatham, the League of Women Voters and served on the boards of the Morris Museum in Morristown and the Chatham Women’s Club.
As Winston Churchill said so succinctly: “You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.” Margaret Christie Nicolais gave a lot and she was a model for her family and those in the community who will continue to provide the leadership that is needed for future generations.
She leaves behind her children, Lisa (Robert) Miller, Michael (Jane LeMense) Nicolais, Joan (Anthony Cicatiello) Nicolais, and Susan (Robert) Weaver, as well as ten grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
The family plans on holding a private memorial service this summer at Green Pond, NJ, where Margaret and Mike had a home for over 30 years. In her memory, contributions are kindly suggested to be made to the Nicolais School of Business at Wagner College.