Diane Carol Nikola: Retired Teacher

Diane Carol Nikola
July 21, 1935 – June 12, 2014

Diane was the devoted daughter of the late Marguerite Ellicott Smith and Harold Thomas Nikola and the step-daughter of the late Donald B. Smith, former Assistant County Executive. She was also predeceased by her loving sister Nancy Kaufman Baker and brother Bruce Alan Nikola. She was born in Mount Kisco, New York on July 21, 1935 but lived most of her life in Patterson, holidaying for over 40 years at her beloved Adirondack cottage on Fourth Lake in Inlet, New York.
She was a graduate of Carmel High School (1952) and received her BS degree from New Paltz Teachers College (1956). For over 34 years she was a tireless, dedicated and loving teacher to scores of Kindergarten students, first in Brewster under the guidance of Principal Richard Rapp at Garden Street School, and then at Kent Elementary School from which she retired in 1990. 

Diane was also a long-time member on the Board of Directors for the now Hudson Federal Credit Union being honoured for her dedicated service in 2011.

Diane’s best friend and ‘partner in crime’ was Natalie Townsend, a popular gymnastics teacher also at Kent School. Together they traveled the country from sea to shining sea and beyond to Europe as well as a very special trip to Vancouver, Canada. They loved their succession of Nat’s schnauzer dogs and Di’s beloved Squirt and Joy. They spent years transforming what remained of the once Neodak Hotel, a grand dame, turn-of-the-century Adirondack retreat, into a diminutive waterfront home complete with boat house, cross country skis, snowmobiles, bikes, croquet sets and best of all, 125 feet of waterfront property. To be a guest there was an honor. It was here that Diane and Nat pursued their love of golf, tennis and evening Cape Coders on the screened porch. Life was good and they enjoyed every minute becoming avid participants in local community life while delving into the area’s venerable history. 

For the past three years Diane’s failing health necessitated the live-in help of her eldest nephew Bruce Nikola who enriched her life taking such good care of her for which we are all truly grateful. They enjoyed watching sports together. The Mets and Connecticut Girls Basketball Team have lost a devout fan!

Diane is survived by her best friend Natalie Townsend, brothers Ken Nikola (Peggy) (Hopewell Junction), Barry Nikola (Florida) and General Donald B. Smith, retired, now Sheriff of Putnam County (Jane), and youngest sister Terri Smith Clark (Peter) of Vancouver, Canada and Falls Village, Connecticut. In addition she was a loving Aunt to Bruce, Kyle, Bert (deceased), Chad, Derek, Stacey, Katrina, Keith, Nicole, Margie, Christopher, Cheri, Andrew, Danielle, Jessica and Lilli.

Though childless herself, she was entrusted with the young lives of over 1300 five year olds, from all walks of life, who found in her teaching a gentle but firm, guiding hand which set the stage for a bright future. Diane Nikola made an indelible mark on all of our impressionable hearts.

In lieu of flowers, donors can contribute to a Carmel High School scholarship fund:
Diane Nikola Scholarship Fund 
PO Box 63
Carmel, New York 10512

Friends may call at the Beecher Funeral home, 1 Putnam Avenue, Brewster on Friday, June 27, 2014 from 4:00pm to 7:00pm. A memorial service will take place on Saturday, June 28th at the Patterson Baptist Church, Rt 311, Patterson, NY.


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