It is with a heavy heart that Wagner College announces the passing of Margaret Christie Nicolais ’49 H’14 on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021. She died peacefully in her sleep at home. Margaret was 94 years old, and she had lived a full and accomplished life. She was predeceased by her loving husband of 63 years, Michael Nicolais ’49 H’14, in 2016.
Margaret was raised on Staten Island. She graduated from Wagner College in 1949 with a bachelor of science degree in business administration. She then attended Rush Presbyterian School of Nursing in Chicago, Illinois, where she earned her R.N. degree. She practiced at Marine Hospital on Staten Island, which was one of the largest public health hospitals in the country at the time.
While at Wagner College she met her future husband Michael, but she continued with her education in nursing before returning to Staten Island. They were married in 1953 and had two children on Staten Island while Margaret worked at the hospital. They then decided to move to Chatham, New Jersey, where they had two more children and raised their family, consisting of three girls and one boy.
As soon as the Nicolaises had settled into their Chatham home, Margaret got involved with not only her children’s schools but also the community. She believed it was important to be a part of the community in which you lived, and to do that she committed a lot of her time and energy as well as financial support.
Margaret was active in local politics in Chatham for nearly 25 years. She served on the Chatham Board of Education as well as the Borough Council, where she was liaison to the police and fire departments.
Margaret volunteered her time and skills to a number of philanthropic causes, primarily local area nonprofits related to education and health. In the area of education, she served on the board of ECLC, which operates a school for developmentally challenged children in Chatham. She served as a board member and major fundraiser for the Chatham Library. She also worked with the Girl Scouts, first as a leader and then as a fundraiser for the Morris County Girl Scout headquarters.
In the area of health care, her involvement spanned a wide variety of organizations and roles, from the Green Hill Retirement Home for Women in East Orange to her volunteer work at Summit’s Overlook Hospital and the Morristown Medical Center. She was an alumni fundraiser for Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, where she had gone to nursing school. She also continued to participate in a multi-decade cancer research study at University Hospital in Newark that studied the effect of diet and nutrition on various cancers.
Margaret was on the Wagner College Alumni Board and was active in fundraising for her alma mater for many years, including chairing the fundraising efforts for the class of 1949. In appreciation and recognition of Margaret and Mike’s efforts, the business school at Wagner College was named the Nicolais School of Business in their honor. She and Mike were given honorary degrees by Wagner College in 2014 in recognition of their dedication and their respect for the education they received during their college days.
Margaret was a member of the Stanley Congregational Church in Chatham and the League of Women Voters. She served on the boards of the Morris Museum in Morristown and the Chatham Women’s Club.
As Winston Churchill said so succinctly, “You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.” Margaret Christie Nicolais gave a lot, and she was a model for her family and for those in the community who will continue to provide the leadership needed by future generations.
Margaret leaves behind her children — Lisa (Robert) Miller, Michael (Jane LeMense) Nicolais, Joan (Anthony Cicatiello) Nicolais, and Susan (Robert) Weaver — as well as 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
The family plans to hold a private memorial service this summer at Green Pond, New Jersey, where Margaret and Mike had a home for over 30 years.
The Nicolais family suggests that contributions in Margaret’s memory be made to the Nicolais School of Business at Wagner College.
To learn more about Mike and Margaret Nicolais, read their story on the Wagner Magazine website.