Aatos Matthias "Nik" Nikkila, 89, died Feb. 14, 2011, at his home in Chardon, where he and his wife, Hilda had lived since 1952.
Nik was born March 10, 1921, in Warren to Matthias and Wilhelmina Nikkila.
Nik and Hilda met when they were teens at Camp Luther and married in 1948, after Nik's service in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
Nik was known in the community as "Coach Nikkila," for his many years of coaching football, basketball, track and as Chardon's athletic director. In 2002, he was chosen to be in the Chardon High School Athletic Hall of Fame. This was a great joy to him. He was also remembered as the driver's education teacher and city council member for many years.
He started his teaching career in Perry and continued in Chardon from 1953 to 1981. He still had previous students keep in touch with him, even through this year.
He was a man of principle and fought for the causes he believed in, both politically and religiously. He was uncompromising in integrity, church, sports, work and at home. An active member of Zion Lutheran Church in Fairport Harbor, he spent many years writing letters challenging Bishops of the Elca to Biblical principles. To his children and students, he encouraged a right response as well.
He was a 1939 graduate of Warren G. Harding High School and a 1948 graduate of Bowling Green State University, where he received his bachelor's and master's degrees. He helped to develop Chardon's first community swimming pool.
While serving in the Navy as a boatswain's mate aboard the USS Pumper in Bari, Italy, he rescued a large number of his fellow sailors who were attacked with mustard gas. He always encouraged friends to read the book, "Disaster At Bari," by Infield to recall the attack.
He is survived by his wife, Hilda; son, Howard of Chardon; daughters, Molly Nikkila of Chardon and Jane (Mark) Sterland of Centralia, Wash.; grandchildren, Matthew, Katherine, David, John and Laura Sterland; sister-in-law, Esther Nikkila; numerous nieces and nephews; and the Sterland dog, "Jake."
He was preceded in death by his parents; sisters, Bertha Anthony and Elsie Soyring; and brother, Norman.
Funeral services will be held 11 a.m. Saturday at Zion Lutheran Church, 504 Eagle St., Fairport Harbor.
Calling hours will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at The Potti Funeral Home, 538 Fifth St., Fairport Harbor and from 10 a.m. until the time of the service Saturday at the church. His grandchildren will play music at the church from 10:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday. Burial will be in Chardon Municipal Cemetery.
Donations in his memory are suggested to Zion Lutheran Church. -