Wednesday, September 07 2016 @ 07:45 PM CDT
Contributed by: Lynette Djernes Goldberger
George "Nick" Leodean Nicodemus
July 17, 1924 - September 3, 2016
George, the youngest of 12 children, was born to Franklin and Emma
(Mullennax) Nicodemus in Des Moines, Iowa. A beloved husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, he also was Coach Nick or Papa Coach to many others. George spent his early school years in Wynne, Arkansas. As a small 7th grader, he discovered his lifelong passion for basketball after scoring his first basket, a reverse lay-up, against a bigger 8th grader. He loved to surprise the defense with his offensive moves.
The family returned to Iowa during his high school years where he was an outstanding multi-sport athlete for Maxwell High School. Immediately following high school graduation in 1943, he entered the U.S. Navy serving until his honorable discharge in 1946. Using the GI Bill, he began his pursuit of a college degree. A slow reader, he struggled but preserved and, following his junior college graduation, started a 40-plus years teaching/coaching career. He took great pride in eventually earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees while working and raising his family.
In the early 1970’s, he found his niche’ coaching women’s basketball. His John F. Kennedy College (Wahoo, NE) teams won two national AAU championships. In 1973, the team was selected to accompany a men’s All-Star team to the People’s Republic of China. The teams were the second to enter China (following a USA ping-pong team) as part of President Nixon’s “Friendship Through Sports” initiative. He went on to coach the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s women’s basketball teams (1975-77), earning a Big 8 Championship and continues to hold the second highest win percentage in UNL women’s basketball history. He was a pioneer coach in the Women’s Professional Basketball League (WBL), a precursor to today’s WNBA, coaching the Iowa Cornets and Milwaukee Does.
In 1986, he joined his wife, Karen, relocating to Arizona where she had accepted a position as Cochise College women’s basketball coach. He coached briefly at Buena High School (AZ) before joining the college as assistant women’s basketball coach. He assumed the head coaching position when Karen resigned to accept an administrative position, continuing for several years. After full retirement, he enjoyed his softball friends and visiting over coffee with many friends, always ready with a story to share, with time always for teaching the finer skills of shooting to young family members visiting Arizona. He believed in education and giving young people a chance for success. He was seldom disappointed.
Throughout his life, he enjoyed competing in various sports, making many friends along the way. Well into his 80’s, he enjoyed senior coed softball and competing in Senior Olympic track and basketball.
He leaves behind his wife of 43 years, Karen, his children Patricia Clark, Cindy Holliday, Kim (Dale) White and son, Rex (Kim) Nicodemus. Seven grandchildren, eleven great-grandchildren, numerous nephews, nieces, his wife’s family, and his beloved 4-legged friends also survive him.
A visitation will be held 2:00 – 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, September 7th at Hatfield Funeral Home 830 S Highway 92, Sierra Vista. Services and burial to will be held in Nebraska on September 10, 2016. Memorials may be made to Border Animal Rescue (P.O. Box 3865, Sierra Vista 85636 or Care For the Horses (careforthehorses.com).