Dr. Eugene Nikkari

February 27, 1927 — January 15, 2020

Dr. Eugene Nikkari

Dr. Eugene M. "Gene" Nikkari, age 92, of St. Louis, MI passed away Wednesday, January 15, 2020 at The Brook of Big Rapids, Big Rapids, MI.

Visitation will be held at Smith Family Funeral Homes, St. Louis, MI. on Friday, January 24, 2020, from 2-8 P.M. with the family present from 2-4 & 6-8 P.M.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at Nativity of the Lord Parish Mt. St. Joseph Catholic Church, St. Louis, MI on Saturday, January 25, 2020, at 11:00 A.M. with Rev. Fr. Jim Carlson officiating, with a luncheon provided by the church after the mass.  Burial will take place at Fort Custer National Cemetery, Augusta, MI.

Eugene was born on February 27, 1927, in Watton, MI, a small Finnish farming community in the Upper Penninsla, to Matt and Esther (Hendrickson) Nikkari.  Eugene spoke very little English when he started school, and his mother died when he was six years old.  His father married his mother's sister, Senia (Hendrickson) Mars.  Following high school graduation, Eugene honorably served his country in the United States Navy from May 22, 1945, to July 27, 1946.

Gene married Gloria R. Romagnoli on January 23, 1950; she passed away on February 7, 2014.

Gene began his career as a teacher in 1951 for Merrill High School.  He became principal for Almont High School in 1955.  The Almont Public School District named him superintendent in 1960.  Then, in 1963, the St. Louis School District selected Gene to be their superintendent - a position he held until his retirement in 1988.  In appreciation for his leadership and stewardship, the St. Louis School District renamed the former State Street Elementary to the Eugene M. Nikkari Elementary School.  As can be found on the St. Louis School website, "Dr. Nikkari was most noted for his personal integrity.  His word on a matter was more credible than a written contract.  A fellow colleague once said, Gene could probably be best described as 'quiet competence.'"

Throughout Gene's professional career, he attended several universities, including Gogebic Junior College, Northern Michigan University, Central Michigan University, University of Michigan, Purdue University, and Michigan State University.  In 1971, he received his doctorate in education from Wayne State University.

He was a member of Mt. St. Joseph Catholic Church, St. Louis, MI

Gene is survived by his children: Matthew and Tracy Webb of Big Rapids, MI; Maria and Jeff Reynolds of Cadillac, MI; Andrew and Diana Nikkari of Grand Junction, Colorado; four grandchildren: Gina and Brendan Wheeler of Amman, Jordan; Mitchell and Lauren Reynolds of Traverse City, MI; Olivia Nikkari and Maxwell Nikkari of Grand Junction, Colorado; three great-grandchildren: Ian and Lincoln Reynolds, and Lucy Wheeler; sister Helen Peters of Milwaukee, WI; and step-sister Joyce Seeke of Bessemer, MI. He was preceded in death by his parents and his wife Gloria.

Gene’s family requests memorials may be made to the GIRESD Imagination Library (1131 E Center St, Ithaca, MI 48847). This early literacy program is supported by the Gratiot-Isabella Regional Education Service District in Ithaca, Michigan. Online condolences can be made af www.smithfamilyfuneralhomes.com.  The family is being served by Smith Family Funeral Homes, St. Louis, MI.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dr. Eugene Nikkari, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Visitation - with family present from 2-4 & 6-8 P.M.

Friday, January 24, 2020

2:00 - 8:00pm

Smith Family Funeral Homes - St. Louis

117 North East Street, St. Louis, MI 48880

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Mass of Christian Burial

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Starts at 11:00am

Mt. St. Joseph Catholic Church

605 S Franklin St, St. Louis, MI 48880

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