American Veteran 01

James Alexander Nickell

April 14, 1931 ~ February 15, 2020 (age 88)



James Alexander Nickell, 88, of Hannibal, MO formerly of Palmyra, MO passed away at 10:03 AM Saturday, February 15, 2020, at his home.

Funeral services will be held 10:00 AM Saturday, February 22, 2020, at Park United Methodist Church in Hannibal with full military honors provided by the Emmette J. Shields American Legion Post #55 following the service at the church.  Pastor Jessica Foster will officiate.

The family is being served by the Smith Funeral Home & Chapel of Hannibal.

James was born on April 14, 1931, in Humston, IA the son of Kenneth and Ophelia (Harris) Nickell.

He was united in marriage to Betty S. Gordon on September 1, 1956, in Brookfield, MO.  She preceded him in death on December 7, 2019.

Survivors include his children, Steve Nickell (Linda) of Cabot AR, Stacey Franks (Mike) of Columbia, MO; eight grandchildren:  Ashley Nickell, Travis Nickell, Anne Russell, Laura VanNote (Brian), Samantha Davis (Lane), Sean Nickell, Spencer Nickell, Stuart Nickell; one great- grandchild, Theodore VanNote, his loving dog, “Bella” and numerous nieces and nephews.

In addition to his parents and wife, Mr. Nickell was preceded in death by a son, Scott Nickell and a brother and sister.

James graduated from Brookfield High School in the class of 1949.  He went on to honorably serve his country in the United States Air Force during the Koran War.  During his time of service James was an Air Traffic Control Radar Operator.  Upon his honorable discharge from the Air Force, James attended college at Northeast Missouri State Teachers College in Kirksville.  In May of 1959, James graduated with a Bachelors of Science Education and secondary in Mathmatics and General Studies.  He went on to further his education and received his Masters of Arts Degree in 1960.

Mr. Nickell had worked as a teacher in Cameron, MO and Keytesville, MO before he and Betty moved to Palmyra.  James served the rest of his teaching career at the Hannibal Public School as a Guidance Counselor.  Mr. Nickell also taught College Algebra through the University of Missouri Columbia Extension program.

James was an avid golfer and if the weather permitted her loved to spend his days at the American Legion Golf Course.  Away from work and golf, James enjoyed gardening, and yard work.  In his younger years he enjoyed hunting, fishing, coaching his children in baseball and softball and serving as Cubmaster for his boys during their Boy Scout years.

James biggest love was his family and the time they cherished together.

Memorial contributions may be made to the American Heart Association, in care of the Smith Funeral Home & Chapel.

Online condolences may be made to the family on James memorial page at


To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of James Alexander Nickell, please visit our floral store.


Funeral Service
February 22, 2020

10:00 AM
Park United Methodist Church
2335 Palmyra Road
Hannibal, MO 63401


American Heart Association

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