BENTON – Lawrence Henry Nickel (March 5, 1928 – April 11, 2014) was a friend to many and stranger to few. He was inventor of the wooden casserole carrier, professional turkey fryer, and the greatest LSU fan that ever lived. “Money is my name and money is my game,” is a quote he was famous for when he was a young professional, but for those of us who knew him, this statement was really quite far from the truth.
He was the son of two Czechoslovakian immigrants, Marie (Barroch) Nickel (deceased) and Joe Nickel (deceased) who as children arrived at Ellis Island and journeyed all the way down to the small town of Libuse, Louisiana where Lawrence was born. Not many know that the name ‘Nickel’ was actually given to his family upon arrival in the United States because the family’s true last name, Nykl, was misheard and thus misspelled on their entry forms.
As the son of two immigrants who spoke fluent Czech most of the time, and as the third child in a line of five, Donald, Charles, Margaret, and Clarence, he came to find his voice and his tenacity rather quickly.
After graduating from the very first class of Bossier High School in 1945, Lawrence joined the Navy to serve during World War II. Upon returning, he graduated from the School of Banking of the South at L.S.U. and later received the honor and burden of serving on the Draft Board for the Vietnam War. He went on to receive several honors for his service and professional career, including the very first Lois Jackson Memorial award for outstanding service to the community.
Lawrence devoted 64 years of his life to his sweetheart Maurine (Mitchell) Nickel who was at his side every day until his passing. Although he would never admit it, she kept him in line. Maurine was his reason for rising each morning. They were traveling buddies, cooking partners, and together they raised two talented daughters, Cindy (Nickel) Schwartz and Karen (Nickel) Moore. Lawrence was so very proud of his girls and everyone within earshot knew that. They validated everything he had worked so hard to achieve.
He dearly loved his grandson, Larry Schwartz and affectionately called him ‘Bear’. Although all of his grandchildren: Jill (Schwartz) Pace, Holly (Moore) Schreiber, Hillary Moore and Kelsey Moore were the absolute apples of his eye, they all knew that Larry was really his favorite. Although, when his two great-grandchildren Chloe Pace and Landon Pace came along, that ranking might have been challenged a bit. He loved them all absolutely and unconditionally. He not only taught them all how to fish, but then made them watch while he cleaned, battered, and fried the fish. He played dress up and tea party with some of them and taught others the correct way to mow a yard. Over the years he rocked each and every one of them to sleep and would not have traded those moments for the world.
Lawrence had to do things his way, and that is what we all loved so much about him. He didn’t just fish; he built his own barge to do it. He didn’t just play golf, he created his own tournament (at which he chose his own teams and kept the trophy in his truck). He didn’t just work; he instead served as an employee of Bossier Bank and Trust for 42 years, working his way up from clerk to Vice President. He was a member of and served as President of the Chamber of Commerce, was a member of and served as President of the Lions Club, was a volunteer for the March of Dimes, served on the Board of the Ark-La-Tex Christian Encampment, and served as church deacon at the Bennett Street Church of Christ. He especially enjoyed his years serving dessert at the Community Kitchen at the Airline Drive Church of Christ.
He surely had a competitive streak and made his presence known on the Burton Realty Softball Team, the Bossier Bank Bowling League, and in numerous games of dominoes, pinochle and bridge with friends.
For all those who are missing Lawrence now, he would assure you that he is in a better place with his Heavenly Father, free of pain and the difficulties that come with old age. He is probably repeating to us the same quote that he was really known for – one reserved often just for his grandchildren and great grandchildren as they were leaving his home – “don’t forget…I love you.”
Visitation will be held Monday, April 14th at Rose-Neath Funeral Home in Bossier, from 5pm – 7pm. The funeral will be held Tuesday, April 15th at the Airline Drive Church of Christ at 10:00 am. Minister’s Tom Moore and Ben Brewster will officiate. Interment will follow at Rose-Neath Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorials be made to Shared Harvest Community Kitchen at Airline Drive Church of Christ, 2125 Airline Dr., Bossier City, LA.