Irene Mabel Nickerson died peacefully on December 31, 2020 at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre at the age of 94.
Irene was born in Kenora, Ontario, on March 15, 1926 to William Henrik Forstrom, an immigrant from Sweden, and Olga Maria Pearson Forstrom. She grew up with her three beloved siblings and a large extended family of Swedish heritage.
After graduating from Kenora District High School, she boarded the Canadian and traveled to Toronto to attend the Ontario College of Pharmacy, graduating in 1947 as one of only a handful of female pharmacists in her class. She began her career at Walkey’s Drugstore in Kenora, took a lengthy break to raise her family, and then returned to her profession, enjoying fulfilling years as a pharmacist at Ridgeway Clinic, Dawson Court and Bourke’s Red River Road in the 1970s and 80s.
She married John Nickerson, her high school sweetheart, on December 30, 1949 at the Forstrom home in Kenora. They were devoted partners for over 60 years, until John’s passing on September 9, 2010.
Upon John’s graduation from Queen’s University medical school, they settled in Port Arthur (Thunder Bay) in 1954 and raised their family of six children at their home on North Algoma Street. When the house got too big, they spent twenty-five happy years at Maplecrest Tower.
Irene’s quiet strength was the foundation of our family, and she taught us by example about kindness, selflessness, commitment to family, hard work, courage and the value of education.
Irene and John spent most of their summers at their camp at Silver Beach, but also loved to revisit their Kenora roots at the family camp on Lake of the Woods. They enjoyed winter trips to Barbados and cross-country skiing at the farm on Silver Falls Road. When Irene could find time, she also enjoyed curling, bridge and golf. She made friends wherever she went and treasured her many long-term friends.
After John’s death, Irene lived at Chartwell Glacier Ridge, where she was well cared for by the staff and homecare providers from ParaMed.
Irene was predeceased by her parents, her sister Dora Cox (Bob), her brother Sidney Forstrom (Joan), her daughter-in-law Dawn Nickerson, and son-in-law Steven Elrick. She is survived by her dear sister Shirley Anne Luft (Bill) and six children: Mary Lou Kelley (John Cosgrove), Deborah de Bakker (Paul), George Nickerson (Sandy Forsyth), Catherine Nickerson (Brian King), Joan Duke (John) and Susan Nickerson (Josh Croisetiere). She was the beloved grandmother of Allison Kelley (Dan Zapior), Beverley Kelley (Jeremy Warenzek), Mary de Bakker (Sandi Lukic), Peter de Bakker (Jennifer Dagsvik), John de Bakker (Jennifer), Martin de Bakker (Maria Sanchez Garcia), Alexander Adam, Jeri Duke (Noel Thrush), Jordis Duke, Joanna Duke (Andrew Bonin), Craig Elrick and Mary Elrick; and great-grandmother (Grandma-Grandma) of Grayson and Zoe Zapior; Weston Warenzek; Luka and Sasha Lukic-de Bakker; Hazel, William, August and Nils de Bakker; Mabel and George de Bakker; Ethan and Lucas Thrush; and Connor and Paisley Elrick. She also leaves many much-loved nieces, nephews and their families.
Archdeacon Deborah Kraft of St. Paul’s Anglican Church will lead the family in online prayers privately, and the interment of ashes and a Celebration of Life will be held when it can be done safely.
Irene was a long-time client of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB). Please consider donating to the CNIB in Irene’s memory. Donations made in Memory of Irene Nickerson will be directed by the CNIB Foundation to support services in Thunder Bay. You can drop off a cheque payable to CNIB at Sargents; or make your gift online at cnib.donorportal.ca; or donate by phone at 1-800-563-2642; or you can mail a cheque to Canadian National Institute for the Blind, 1929 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON, M4G 3E8.
Condolences may be offered to the family at Sargent & Son Funeral Chapel at www.sargentandson.com.