Michael A. Nicolais ’49 H’14 passed away peacefully on Monday, Nov. 7, after a short battle with cancer. He was 91 years old. As recently as six months ago, he was still indulging in his daily activities, walking a mile and a half to his health club, doing a modest work-out, having breakfast with friends and then hopping on the subway to go the office where he remained an active financial manager. He loved the financial markets and he loved New York City, where he was born and spent a large part of his life.
Mike was born on Staten Island on May 30, 1925, and spent his entire youth there. He served for 33 months in the U.S Army infantry during World War II and returned home before he turned 21 years old. He fought on the German front line, including in the Battle of the Bulge, and was awarded both a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Upon returning from serving his country, he attended Wagner College, earning a B.S. degree in accounting, magna cum laude, in 3 years.
Shortly after graduating, he joined the Clark Estates, a renowned family office where he worked for the next 42 years, serving for the last 23 years as its president. He was an excellent value investor who also, from time to time, would dip his toe into the world of venture capital. He was well known on Wall Street and served on many public and private company boards of directors.
During this time, and as part of his relationship with the Clark family, he served for many years as a director of the Baseball Hall of Fame and of the Fenimore House, a museum dedicated to James Fenimore Cooper, the great American writer. Upon “retiring” from the Clark Estates at the age of 65, he immediately launched his second career as a money manager, including working with and for Phil Carret, one of the legendary investors in Wall Street history, and at Wall Street Access until his death.
One of the great loves of his life was his alma mater, Wagner College. Due to the time and financial resources he and his wife Margaret devoted to Wagner, they were each awarded honorary doctorate degrees. The president’s home at Wagner is named Nicolais House, and the college’s business program is expected to be renamed the Nicolais School of Business later this month.
Mike is survived by his wife of 63 years, Margaret Christie Nicolais; three married daughters: Lisa Nicolais Miller, Joan Ellen Nicolais and Susan Nicolais Weaver; his married son, Michael Robert Nicolais, and 10 grandchildren.
Family visitation hours are scheduled for Friday evening from 6 to 9 p.m. at the William A. Bradley & Son Funeral Home, 345 Main St., Chatham, N.J. A memorial service will take place on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 1 p.m. at Baltusrol Golf Club, 201 Shunpike Road, Springfield, N.J.
For those who would like to make a contribution in Mike’s name, please direct your gift to the Nicolais School of Business Scholarship Fund at Wagner College in care of the Office of Institutional Advancement, One Campus Road, Staten Island, NY 10301.