American Veteran 04

John Lee Nickovich

February 19, 1941 ~ April 11, 2022 (age 81)


"Heroes get remembered, but legends never die"

 The Sandlot 

John Lee Nickovich passed peacefully in his home, Monday April 11th, surrounded by the loving family he was the center of.  

John was born February 19th, 1941 to Lazo and Julia Nickovich. Born 7th, in a line-up of 8, he wasted no time figuring out his place in the family. His sly smile and charming appeal made it easy for him to quickly become a family favorite. Especially a favorite of his father’s when he would complete his daily task of bringing home a bucket of beer from the local corner bar at the tender age of 8. 

John grew up attending grade school in East Helena, eventually graduating from Helena High School in 1958. He was also a standout baseball player for the Lewis and Clark Post 2 Legion team, followed by a 3-year stint with the semi-professional East Helena Smelterites. In 1958, John was a starting outfielder for Post 2. They won the Central Division with an 11-1 conference record. They finished 23-6 overall and placed 3rd at the state tournament. That season, John batted .312 and was 2-0 on the mound. His most notable semi-pro distinctions include getting hits off of Dave McNalley and a walk-off hit against Satchel Paige to secure the Smelterites win 10-9. 

After baseball, John joined the United States Airforce. He served his country as an Airforce Policeman from 1960 to 1966. After his honorable discharge, John came back to East Helena and started what turned into a 35-year career with the ASARCO Lead Smeltering plant.  

In the Fall of 1971 John met the love of his life, Nancy Wiseman. On June 30th, 1973, John and Nancy were married in the East Helena Methodist church. Together they lived a family focused life in which they raised their three children: David, Paula, and Shauna. John was well known for saying, “if the kids can’t come with us, then we aren’t going”.  

John’s other passions in life included hunting, fishing, slow-pitch softball, and drinking good whisky. The friends from these hobbies are too many to count, and the folk tales and memories too inappropriate to rehash. It is well known that if John wasn’t giving you a hard time, then he didn’t care much for you. He carried that quick-witted sarcasm with him through to his final days. It might be the one quirk we will miss the most.  

Beyond being a devoted father, John really found his calling as a family man when the grandkids started coming. From lying in princess tents with his oldest granddaughters, to giving exclusive hunting tips to his youngest- each of us had a unique bond with him that we will hold on to for the rest of our lives. 

Despite all the love he had for his family- the summation of his adoration was given to his great-grandchildren. He would smile with pride hearing stories about his great granddaughters in Three Forks. John also had a special bond with his twin great-grandsons whom he would wait for, every day, to be picked up from daycare. Even in his final days, he would make a point to get up and be in his chair before his “boys” got there for their daily visit. Fortunately, John even had a brief snuggle session with his newest great grandson, Kyler.

John is survived by his wife, Nancy, children, David (Heather), Paula (Chris), and Shauna. His grandchildren Ashten, Jenna (Daryn), Gabrial (Shea), Paige, Taylor, Lexi, Madison, and Jaci. His great-grandchildren Kharsyn, Marquie, Colt, Cael, Kaisley, and Kyler. His special grand-dog, Wally, and numerous nieces, nephews, and great nieces and nephews. 

He is preceded in death by his parents Lazo and Julia Nickovich. His 7 siblings, Eileen, Mary, May, Helen, Lillian, Bill, and Julia, son-in-law Todd Brown and infant grandson, Tyson.  

A celebration of life will be held Saturday, April 23rd 3:00 pm at the Service Club at Fort Harrison. Honorary Pallbearers include Richard MacDonald, Charlie McCarthy, Karl Meagher, Mike Day, Marshall Price, Dean Colvin, Dane Broadhead, and Scott Gleich. John has been cremated and will be laid to rest at 3 pm Friday, April 29th with full military honors at the Fort Harrison National Cemetery. Flowers (203 2nd St. Apt. 1 59635) and Condolences (PO Box 224 59635) can be sent to Nancy Nickovich. 

John will be remembered as a hero to those who knew him, but to his family and loved ones, he is a legend who will never die. 

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of John Lee Nickovich, please visit our floral store.


Celebration of Life
April 23, 2022

3:00 PM
Fort Harrison

April 29, 2022

3:00 PM
Fort Harrison National Cemetery

© 2022 Simple Cremation. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS & TA | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Accessibility