Raymond A. Nickolson, 86, of Ely

Raymond Alexander Nickolson, 86, passed away Saturday, September 12th at Carefree Living in Ely MN. He died among caretakers who put their lives at risk every day to make dying during this horrendous time a little less painful. COVID-19 took his life a little sooner than his body wanted but his mind was ready to let go. We are comforted in knowing his struggle with dementia is finally over and he can now be at peace.
He was an up north native, born in Two harbors, raised in Robinson, and lived most of his life in Ely. He met his wife, Veronica, in Ely and they spent many years together in Robinson with Ray’s family, eventually settling into their home in Ely with their daughter Ruth.
Ray worked hard his entire life. He was proud and strong. It was his duty to provide for his family and he took that duty to heart. He worked in the mines, logged, fished and hunted to put food on the table, and even trapped beaver to support his family. Later in life, he was able to work on the railroad as an engineer and loved it.
He worked hard, but knew how to play hard too. He taught himself how to play the accordion and piano and loved polka music and dancing. He always found time to throw back a brandy and a beer with his buddies. He loved his garden and the woods. He was a champion canoe racer and a committed fisherman. After he retired, he discovered a passion for golf, which he did every morning with his brother, Hank, and friends. In later years, he looked forward to monthly breakfasts with his fellow retired miners.
After Veronica passed, he eventually found love again with his lady Pat Tarvin. He became part of her family and he enjoyed being “Pa Pa Ray” to her grandchildren. He loved them, as he loved his daughter, granddaughters, and great granddaughters.
He loved Ely; the people, the woods, the lakes, the memories, the friendships, the jokes, the stories and so much more. They all bound him to Ely. It was a part of his heart and soul and he will always be a part of Ely.
The family will be postponing a memorial for Ray until next summer or until there is a Covid-19 vaccine and it is safe to gather.
In lieu of flowers please direct any contributions to Ely Carefree Living to provide Personal Protective Equipment during this pandemic. When making the donation please specify that it is in memory of Ray Nickolson.
Ely Carefree Living
C/O Ray Nickolson
140 S. 2nd Ave. W.
Ely, MN 55731
Family arrangements have been entrusted to Kerntz Funeral Home of Ely.