Nena Caroline Nicolls (née Hardie)

June 7, 1928 – January 8, 2023
Trusty, dusky, vivid, true – with eyes of gold and bramble dew

At her home in Qualicum Beach, our adored and adoring Mum, Gran, GG, Aunt, and friend – galloped away on Sunday, January 8, 2023.
It has been said that “a short life in the saddle is better than a long life by the fire.” Mum was lucky enough to have enjoyed a long life in the saddle (quite literally, she rode up until her late 80’s) and a long life by her crackling fire – both in Vancouver and at Qualicum – surrounded by family and friends!
Nan was born and raised in Vancouver to parents, Dr. Margaret Florence Hardie and Roderick Campbell Hardie, from whom she learned so much about love, gardening – science and art. She was the second of three children – older sister, Dr. Jean Beck and younger brother, Rod Hardie.
Nan graduated from UBC with a BSc in Agricultural Sciences. At UBC Nan joined the Delta Gamma Sorority where she made wonderful, lifelong friends.
She married her one true love John P. R Nicolls in 1952 and they had six children together: Sue, Brenda, Tish, Steph, John and Rod. As a family, they rode horses, played tennis, boated around the Straits of Georgia and spent magical summers at Qualicum Beach, with their extended family and a wide circle of friends. Life was good.
Tragically, Nan was widowed in 1973, and overnight found herself a single mother of six kids between the ages of 10 and 19. With innate strength and determination, she raised them as a femme seule.
Her family and friends were her occupation; she created a juicy life for them and included all who wanted to be encircled in her love, generosity and unique sense of fun. Nan always saw the positive, found the silver lining, and looked for the good in people, situations and circumstances.
Mum was fortunate to have had amazing adventures … to Europe, Africa, Australia, South America, and Asia – with friends, family and with her group of intrepid Vancouver Aquarium pals. And for several weeks every summer she was happily included on sailing trips on the Gabrielle III, exploring the open seas and sheltered coves of Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii.
Summers were spent at her beloved View North, the family cottage in Qualicum, where she welcomed and hosted family and friends from all over the world.
Mum was a talented photographer and writer who catalogued her trips and her family life in extraordinary photo albums and journals. She had many and varied pursuits and interests; she was a natural athlete, voracious reader, artist, quilter, cook, baker, and gardener! And these talents won her coveted blue ribbons at the annual Coombs Agricultural Fair, which she was involved with for 60+ years. Legendary is Mum’s special love of horses and dogs – from an early age and throughout her entire life.
Whether riding at Southlands, on Fraser Valley or English hunts, through Qualicum forests or over Yukon tundra, Mum was happiest in the saddle, with a yellow lab at her side.
She shared these and other passions with her eleven adored grandchildren who adored her back a hundredfold. Not everyone gets to meet their great-grandchildren in their lifetime – but Mum did! And she knew all these generations so well… her home at Qualicum was a second home to each of them, where they all spent summer holidays and special occasions with Gran.
There, she taught them to ride, waterski, play tennis, bake pies, love poetry and appreciate the brilliant red, orange, and vermillion sunsets. Neither she nor they could have asked for more!
Mum was predeceased by her beloved husband, John P. R. Nicolls in 1973, by her sister, Dr. Jean Beck, in 2020, and by her brother, Rod Hardie, who predeceased Mum by six weeks. She was also predeceased by her sister-in-law, Joan Brigden, and by Joan’s daughter, Anne Koster.
She is adored and remembered by her six children, 11 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren: daughter, Sue Ragona and her partner, Michael Bingham, and daughters Talia Clarke and husband Travis Clarke, and their children Wyatt, Marlowe and Wren; Bri Ragona and her partner, Lorne Lambert, and their daughter, Kennedy; Mischa O’Marra and her husband, Ryan O’Marra, and their daughter, Emilia; daughter, Brenda Nicolls and her husband, Steven Grauer, and their daughter, Gabrielle Grauer; and their son, Nico Grauer, and his fiancée, Nathalie Down, and their daughter, Constance Rose Grauer; daughter, Tish Nicolls; daughter, Steph Nicolls; son, John Nicolls, and his wife, Molly Sweeney, and their daughters, Sofia and Ruby; son, Rod Nicolls, and his wife, Nicole Stefenelli, and their children; Ginny, John, Tory and Willa.
Mum loved and is also loved and remembered by her nieces, Ruth Beck, Jean Jamieson and her nephew, Ted Beck and their families; and also by nieces Katherine Hardie and Diana Hardie. There are many more wonderful relatives and so many dear, dear friends – all of whom Mum adored and who so enhanced Mum’s life – and vice versa.
We are beyond grateful for the loving caregivers, doctors, VIHA community nurses, physiotherapist and O.T.’s who, towards the end of Mum’s 94 years, came to her home, helping make it possible for Mum to live out her life in her own home.
There will be Celebrations of Nan’s life, in both Qualicum Beach and Vancouver, at times yet to be decided. Please contact the family for information.
Mum, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you – Godspeed.

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