Condolences for Howard James Nikkila

MIke wWally Walter posted on 11/21/11

Last night on the 19th of November as I stepped onstage to a crowd of 800 people, I flashed on the thought of my dear friend Howy, and how my father would kid me that he always thought Howy was funnier than I was. I realized Howy had been laid to rest and I couldn't be there, I dedicated the show to the funniest person I knew, Howy Kirsten. Rest in Peace Howy God has gained another jester!


Wendy Guion nee Mills posted on 11/20/11

Mrs. Nikkila was one of our girl scout leaders, so I was at the house and with Molly often for that activity. I remember Howard as the kid brother who was always underfoot and giving us a hard time as younger brothers do. I didn't know all those things about him that were in his obituary. Makes me sorry I lost touch with the family. God Bless you all.


John DeMuth posted on 11/20/11

Wacky, funny, talented, sensitive, uninhibited, spontaneous… Howard was happiest when with friends, family, and ANY audience upon whom he could inflict his zaniness of the moment. My memories of growing up with him include scouting fun, continuous swimming, late 60’s music, hanging out with friends, and laughing uncontrollably. I recall his somewhat twisted, half-smile with a side glance when engaged is some mischief. I remember our spontaneous road trip departing at 1am during an early college summer to visit my sister who worked at some resort in the Wisconsin Dells. Yes, he received responses ranging from smiles and laughter to quizzical stares and outright shock from pointing strangers on the sunny beach as he slowly crawled out of the lake on his hands and knees from underwater. He then stood up, allowing a long, dark dribble of bottom muck to slowly ooze out of his mouth and down his neck and chest as he casually strolled back to the blanket with a blank expression on his face. Some of those strangers likely still carry this image burned into their brains. I simply smile and remember it as a pure Howard “performance art” moment. Why did we then pointlessly, spontaneously drive many hours on to Duluth simply to look at its exposed bedrock along the shore... and then immediately turn around? (Curiously, we both later ended up with formal educations in geography). While this was probably the last time we communicated, I fondly recall this crazy, fun road trip and many, many other earlier memories of Howard like they occurred yesterday. I will always consider "Howie" to be one of my best friends and a good soul who should have had more time.


Nancy Blum posted on 11/18/11

Howard shared his humor generously and helped me laugh my way through some of adolescence at Chardon High. Underneath all his crazy funniness, he was a sweet, warm guy. I'm happy to learn how many people he touched and made smile, throughout his life.


Mike Rhodes posted on 11/17/11

Mrs.Nikkila , Molly and Jane,Howy was a terrrific guy. Always with a joke or funny stunt! I remember band camps and working on our footwork for hours! I'm sorry that I never saw him perform professionally, I can only imagine the laughs he generated. Whether it was scouts or band or just hanging out around Jan's pool, Howard was always a good guy and fun to be around. As someone once told me, "It does not matter the number of years you haved lived, only the number of people who cared that you did." My thoughts and prayers are with you.


Bonnie Richards Brainard posted on 11/17/11

Know that my thoughts and prayers are with all of you.


Mary (Spear) Thornton posted on 11/16/11

To Hilda, Molly, Jane and family; Howard was a dear friend. I remember him as the "Entertainer" in the CHS band, but his personality and kindness will be missed! I can see him and Jan Van Gorder playing their trumpets and keeping the band laughing,,,now an angel is playing a trumpet for Howard, all my love, Mary


Terrimarie Martsolf posted on 11/16/11

I feel blessed to have met Howard at the Geauga YMCA. My grandson Luis, had an unfortunate experience with water when he was young so he was extremely afraid . I know how important it is for the children to swim so I enrolled him in swim lessons. Fortunately for both of us his teacher was Howard. Luis felt completely safe with him. His size was big, but his heart was larger... The children giggled as he went underwater , and loved when he played "walk the plank" with them. Luis moved to Berea, so he no longer was at the geauga ymca with me. However, I signed up for the Halloween celebration at the ymca and brought Luis with me. When we went to the pool area Howard was giving out candy. Luis was so happy to see "Mr. Howard", and likewise Mr. Howard was delighted to see him. After we began to move on Luis turned to me and said I can't believe Mr. Howard remembered me..after all he teaches a lot of children and I have not been here for a very long time. I smiled, and I thought how much that meant to a 7 year old little boy. Howard was a gentle caring friend to Luis and myself, and I am grateful to have known him.


Lynda Richards posted on 11/15/11

I first became acquainted with Howard when he was teaching the morning's water aerobics class at the YMCA. I don't know how we got on the subject, but eventually I found out that he was Coach Nikkila's son. Howard's father was a very popular football coach and teacher at Chardon High School. Howard struck me as a shy, quiet, and serious person when I first met him. As time went on and I got to know him better, I like to think we became good friends. I had a great deal of respect for how devoted he was in taking care of his father for years. When Coach went to be with the Lord, I was hoping that Howard could finally relax and have some FUN. How trajic to lose Howard just when he was gaining the freedom to travel or whatever he had been putting off for himself because the family depended upon him. I think Howard liked for people to think he was an unapproachable curmugeoun, but even he couldn't fake it when it came to teaching the little kids how to swim. They just loved and trusted him. And Howard's entire demeanor changed, too. He didn't fool me -- I could see right through that big teddybear.I am choosing to believe that Howard may have paid me a visit on his way to Heaven. He died on Friday night. Saturday morning at the pool, I realized that I hadn't seen him for what seemed like a long time. So I went out Sunday morning to buy an "I-miss-you card" to send to him. Next to the picture of an adorable kitten on the front it said "Something wonderful is missing from my life." On the insiide it said. "You". That night I found out that Howard went to be with the Lord. So sweet, so young, so funny..."I'll sure miss you, but Heaven's sweeter with you there".Fondly,Lynda (Richards)


Christine (Cseplo) Stenzel posted on 11/14/11

HOWARD!!!--What a wild, crazy,wonderful guy!!! Even though we lost touch years ago, you've often been part of the very fond memories I have of my high school years in Chardon ( you were part of the welcoming committee when I moved into town, down the street from you) +also a great source of much laughter + music at BGSU, which we both attended. I am honored to have known such a great person--- I'll miss you-- Thanks for all the laughter + fun!!!


Jeanne Cseplo-Horvath posted on 11/14/11

Howard is one of my fondest memories of growing up in Chardon. He was a classmate and dear friend of one of my sisters and I first got to know him when he'd come to our home with the other teen-agers to hang out. Howard was a great musician and taught us how to play "Color My World" by Chicago on our family's piano. I still think of him and that song every time I try some old tunes on my daughter's keyboard.Howard's father was my homeroom teacher at C.H.S. He was a wonderful man like his son.Howard was a lifeguard at the Chardon pool when he was about 18 and made us kids laugh from up in his chair. Years later, he was my son's swimming instructor at the Geauga YMCA. What a deep loss to all of us who grew up in Chardon and have those special memories of a time when life was so simple and the friends you knew then stay permanent in your heart forever.God bless you, Howard and rest in peace with your dad now. We will remember you fondly and cherish the memories we have with you.-Jeanne Cseplo-Horvath


Judy Terlesky posted on 11/13/11

So sorry to hear of Howard"s passing. Please know that you're in my thoughts and prayers


Earl Burks posted on 11/13/11

Howie I am living here in Thailand. I am writing my memoirs here. I had some brain injury last year. Hard to remember things. When I heard of your passing I sat down and suddenly the things we did as comics together came back along with a lot of memory. Now my outline for the book has another 3 pages of outlines. I never realized how much we did or how we made people laugh and cheer. I'll never forget the time on the college tour we played in Minnesota at a religious university. The arena they play basketball in was SRO. There must of been 2000 + people. At the end of our performance you and Joe Dunkle lifted me on your shoulder and raised me up. The crowd was going nuts. I was surprised you guys had me in the air and I yelled "Jesus Christ""! Everyone almost came to a hush. You looked at me and your eyes got real big as if you were saying now what are you going to do? So without missing a beat I immediately continued and said "thank you lord for delivering us the greatest audience in the world"! In the dressing room Howie said "man that was close" we all started to laugh. Lost track of you for a long time my friend but you will be in my memoirs and my heart forever. I was at palm springs airport once getting on a flight and at the airport cafe having a cup of coffee was Bob Hope. I said "hey your Bob Hope"! He told me to sit down and have some coffee. We talked and I asked him if I could get a a picture. He pulled one out of his briefcase and signed it. "thanks for the memories"I asked him why that was his tag line. He said" in this business that will be your greatest reward ever" So Howie " Thanks for the memories"P.S. When you get to Heaven, St. Peter is going to open a book of best comedy bits ever and go," did you and Earl Burks short sheet George Burns bed at Miami University" You'll have to say yes. St. Peter will point and say, "Go through that door, Lenny Bruce and Bill Hicks are waiting for you"


Bev posted on 11/13/11

I have so many wonderful memories in my Howy rolodex. Howy sometimes stayed with me while he was on a comedy tour. One time, while on a Martha Stewart kick, I made French Toast a L'Orange sprinkled with powder sugar and topped with creme fraiche. Howy looked at it for a while, looked at me, and asked, "Where's the maple syrup?" I explained my gourmet recipe to him, he tasted it, looked at me again and said, "This is delicious." And then after a long pause said, "It would be better with maple syrup." The next time Howy came over he brought me a huge bottle of Vermont Maple Syrup. I made him eggs!Howy, I think of you everytime I have maple syrup, my friend!


Jeffrey Lehman posted on 11/12/11

Howard was a very funny guy . Life was never dull when Howard was around! Our gang always had a lot of fun together.He was also a very talented musician. I remember coming home from a class trip to a musical performance and Howard sitting at a piano and playing from memory the songs we had just heard for the first time.


Dr. Jay M. Jahangiri posted on 11/12/11

The friendly and cheerful face of Howard in YMCA Aquatics will be greatly missed.


Kristi Kelly posted on 11/12/11

Howy you left us way too soon...I will always cherish the memories of working with you, watching you work a room, laughing until I cried and most of all, your sweet nature. You will be missed, but always remembered. Reminders of your many hilarious routines come up all the time that make me smile... Rest In Peace ~ Kristi


Elizabeth Thielen posted on 11/12/11

Howy, what a great friend and wonderful comedian you were. When you stayed with us in Reno, Jay and I enjoyed your company so much. You kept us laughing the whole time. You had such an inocense about you. It was an endearing quality that you never lost. You will be sorely missed by everyone who knew you but I know there's a big party in heaven with you up there. Just keep those angels laughing till we meet again. We love you Howy!!!!!Liz


Reba McDavid Mastin posted on 11/12/11

My heart goes out to your family during this time of sorrow. Howard gave so much laughter to this world and will be missed by all. It has been many years since I have seen or spoken to any of you, but the memories I share of times spent with you will remain in my heart always. My love and prayers are with you.


Jay Wendell Walker posted on 11/12/11

Howy, One of the few men I have known who never had a mean word about anybody. In 51 years of doing comedy I can't think of anyone who was more fun to work with. He visited my wife and I when we lived in Reno. For three days we laughed so hard we couldn't breathe. Smart, Funny, and always kind, a very special man. We will miss him but his memory will always be with us.Rest in piece my crazy friend.Jay and Liz


Marilyn Dittebrandt posted on 11/11/11

Howie - Jeff and I are so sad you have left us so soon but you have left us with so many wonderful memories. Remember all the times in Leavenworth fishing with Jeff and our boys? Every Christmas eve you would spend the night and we had great Christmas mornings together. We cherish those memories. Our hearts go out to your family. Jeff wonders if when you entered Heaven were you playing dueling trumpets? You are so loved, Howie and thanks for being a part of our lives.Jeff and Marilyn Dittebrandt


Michael Walter posted on 11/11/11

Still grieving for the loss of my best friend..I was 6th on his list. Howy the days seem a little darker without you, you took apiece of me with you, but you left me many great memories of our friendship, travels adventures and shows. Thnk you for being there buddy! I will truly miss the random phone calls. God seems to take people way to early, I wasn't ready for you to leave. Rest in Peace old friend.