Nikcevich, Ronald Edward
Ronald Edward Nikcevich, age 88, longtime resident of Western Springs. Beloved husband of Patricia (nee O’Connell). Loving father of Cindy (Dennis) Bass, Dan (Kelly), and Jack (Linda). Cherished grandfather of Kelsey (Iskar) Smith, Madeline, Alexis, Katherine, Elizabeth, Kailee, Emily, Christopher, and Sophie. Great grandfather of Antonie. Uncle of Richard and John. Great uncle of Ryan, Alexander, Justine, Eric, Caroline, Robert, and Kate.
Ron was born on December 21, 1934, in Chicago, IL to Vlado and Danica Nikcevich. Ron graduated from Lane Tech high school in Chicago in 1953, and then attended Marquette University on a basketball scholarship, playing for legendary coach, Tex Winter. Ron then completed his college career at Western Illinois University (WIU), where he was a standout on the powerhouse teams coached by Stix Morley, that still hold several records at WIU. Ron graduated from WIU in 1957 with a degree in English. Ron started his career teaching English and coaching basketball at Peoria Richwoods high school in 1957, before moving onto Riverside Brookfield high school in 1958. Ron graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1967 with a master’s degree, and then moved to Lyons Township (LT) high school in 1969.
Ron attained great success as a high school basketball coach, amassing a record 562-288 in 33 years as a varsity head coach. Ron’s first team at LT ran the table and finished the 1970 season undefeated at 31-0. Ron’s last team at LT in 1994, finished third in the state tournament. Ron was known as an outstanding coach whose teams were always very competitive and disciplined. Ron was also highly sought after as a speaker in various basketball camps and clinics and ran his own successful basketball camp at LT for 25 years. Ron also coached internationally and was the head coach for the US Junior National team that won a gold medal over the Soviet Union in in Spain in 1983. Ron also conducted basketball clinics in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany, and Yugoslavia in the 1980s and mid-1990s. Ron was well-organized as a coach and kept detailed records of each practice and game that he coached. Ron served as both vice-president and president of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association and was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame in 1982. His knowledge and wisdom of the game led many famous and prominent coaches to travel to Ron’s home to seek advice. Perhaps Ron’s greatest accomplishment as a coach was the impact that he had on the growth and development of so many young men who would return years later to visit Ron to thank him and describe how their lives and careers were influenced by his leadership and mentorship. Ron was also a popular English teacher, and his classes were well-known for in-depth study of various plays and novels. Ron was a voracious reader, and his home was filled with thousands of books, and many books contained his commentary written in the margin. Ron also became a writer and a poet after he retired from teaching and coaching, publishing his work in journals and magazines that focused on Serbian and Montenegrin culture. Ron and Pat traveled extensively in Europe, for which the Adriatic Coast of Montenegro and Paris, France were their favorite destinations. Ron’s writings were often based on his reflections and observations of where he and Pat traveled in Europe.
Ron met the love of his life, Patricia O’Connell, when he was 17 years old. Ron and Pat were married in 1957 and enjoyed a wonderful marriage of 65 years, and built a warm home for their 3 children, Cindy, Dan, and Jack. Ron was a family man above all, and he loved his children, his beloved parents, brother Bob, and nephews Rich and John and their families. Ron absolutely adored his grandchildren as their Papa. Ron took the family on many family vacations across the United States, that sometimes were in a location nearby where he was coaching or speaking at a basketball camp. His most cherished family vacations were in the mountains of Colorado, Rainy Lake in northern Minnesota, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Ron’s most enduring legacy is his family. He was amazingly, genuinely, and truly curious about both the big and little things and was a true Renaissance man. Memory Eternal - Vjecnaja Pamjat!
Visitation 10am until time of service, 12pm on Friday, February 10th at Hallowell & James Funeral Home, 1025 W. 55th St., Countryside. Burial will take place privately. Funeral information: 708-352-6500 or hjfunerals.com
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