William "Bill" Edward Nicolai Jr. passed away peacefully at home in the presence of family on May 20, 2019 at the age of 91. He was born to Mary Lucille Nicolai and William Edward Nicolai on March 10, 1928 in Long Beach, California.
Bill was a life-long resident of Long Beach and attended Lowell Elementary, Rogers Jr. High School and Wilson High School. As a youth, he joined Cub Scout Troop 234 and Boy Scout Troop 99 earning rank of Eagle Scout in 1942. During high school, he served as a WWII messenger riding his bicycle between fire stations.
After graduating High School in 1945, he attended UCLA where he joined the army reserve and subsequently went on active duty. He attended Radio Repair School at Camp Polk, Louisiana and was discharged in 1947 as a Staff Sergeant. He resumed his studies at UCLA and graduated with a B.S. in Engineering in 1950 with just four days remaining on his GI Bill. While at UCLA, he enjoyed being a member of the Sigma Pi fraternity. Upon graduation, he joined his father at W. E. Nicolai & Son, a petroleum and industrial development company.
At age 23, Bill married his high school sweetheart, Mary Lou Dulin. Bill and Mary Lou were married for nearly 68 years. They have three children, Karen Winnett, Kurt (Ingrid) Nicolai and Kristen (Brad) Sago; four grandchildren, Blake (Melissa) Nicolai, Kylie Sago, Cory Sago and Chase Nicolai and one great-grandchild, Abigail (daughter to Blake and Melissa). Bill was predeceased by wife Mary and son-in-law Steven Winnett.
Education was important to Bill and Mary Lou. They were sponsoring members of the President's Associates at CSULB, supported the Henry Samueli School of Engineering at UCLA and created an endowed scholarship at the University of Redlands.
Bill was proud of his family and took great interest in all their endeavors. He was a collector of art and a supporter of philanthropies in the community.
Traditions were key to Bill. Just as he worked with his father, Bill's son Kurt worked at W. E. Nicolai and Son as well as Transierra Exploration Corporation, an oil and gas exploration company founded by Bill.
Bill's childhood home on Santa Ana Ave. in Belmont Shore is less than ¾ of a mile away from where Bill and Mary Lou resided for the past 47 years. Bill grew up sailing on Alamitos Bay and later in life enjoyed racing Cal 20s with son, Kurt. He was Commodore of Alamitos Bay Yacht Club in 1978 as well as a member of Virginia Country Club where he enjoyed golfing for over 20 years.
Bill enjoyed traveling the world with Mary Lou and learning the history of the countries they visited. Closer to home, he used his mastery of tools to build cabins, playhouses, toys and metal sculptures for his grandchildren. He was always willing to lend a helping hand to friends and neighbors or share a story. Bill will lovingly be remembered and missed by all who knew him.
A Celebration of Life will be held on June 12, 2019 at 1:00pm at Alamitos Bay Yacht Club.
Published in Gazette Newspapers from May 31 to Jun. 7, 2019.