Christopher Nickel passed away on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011 while doing the job he loved as lead ranger at Hovenweep National Monument.
Chris was born in New London, Conn. on July 18, 1956, to Herbert A. and Joan Hutchinson Nickel. He grew up in North Stonington, Conn., attending schools both there and in Stonington. He then continued at Lyndon State College in Vermont and the University of Connecticut, where he took a bachelor’s degree in economics. He briefly studied engineering at the University of Washington.
Chris worked as assistant vice president at the First Vermont Bank in Bellows Falls until his mid-thirties, when he packed up his truck and headed west to follow his dream of working for the National Park Service.
Starting as a volunteer at Natural Bridges National Monument, Chris steadily worked his way up the ranks until he became the acting lead ranger there, while also working at Hovenweep.
On Oct. 5, 2002, in Castle Valley, Utah, he married Linda Whitham, and they have resided in Moab ever since.
A strong and gentle soul, Chris enjoyed a deeply satisfying life in southeast Utah. He was an enthusiastic naturalist since childhood, and loved hiking and interpreting nature, both at work and off-duty. Chris was a mountain climber and rock collector, and also loved to play music with friends. He had a keen wit and an uncanny ear for languages and mimicry and was also a connoisseur of fine wines.
Chris was an avid golfer, loved playing basketball and following his favorite sports teams. He enjoyed landscaping and working on home improvement projects. An avid reader and audiophile, he maintained a large library and music collection. He and his wife loved to travel together, especially to Northern California and Tuscany, Italy.
Chris is survived by his wife, Linda Whitham, of Moab, Utah, and his parents, Herb and Joan Nickel, of Sierra Vista, Ariz.
Chris was in excellent health and was very dear to those who knew him and grieve him. His sudden and unexpected departure stunned his coworkers, friends and family.
At Chris’s request, cremation has taken place and a memorial service will be held at a later date, to be announced.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.SpanishValleyMortuary.com.