Janet Stewart Nickels

April 2, 1934December 21, 2018

Janet Stewart Nickels, of Harrisonburg, passed away Dec 21, 2018 of complications from Alzheimer disease at the age of 84. She was surrounded by family during the last few weeks of her life and she loved it. As her disease advanced, she was more at peace and always had a smile for everyone.

Born in Burnt Hills New York on April 2, 1934, she grew up on the family fruit and dairy farm with her father of Scottish descent Alexander Stewart, her high school teacher mother Emma Connolly Stewart, her brother with developmental disability Eddie, and her three sisters Helen, Florence and Judy. She met her husband George Nickels at Peniel Bible Conference.

She is survived by her sister Florence, her children Sam, Dan and Steve, her brother-in-law Bill Brownson, and many nephews, nieces, and grandchildren (Rachel, Gabrielle, Katlyn, Daniel, Carissa, Heather, Alex and Ana) and great grandchildren (Eleanor, Sanju and Muda).

Despite having only a BS in biology from the University of Vermont, for 20 years Janet worked as head lab technician guiding doctoral students and publishing multiple papers on topics of microbiology in the labs of Dr Fisher and Dr White at Florida State University. She also worked as a tech and phlebotomist in hospital labs in Lodi NJ and Winchester VA. When her children were young, she was an at-home mom. Janet and George were wonderful parents, driving to football practices, piano lessons, swim meets, church youth retreats, Scout jamborees, and taking their kids on long camping trips in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

She was a life-long church attender wherever her husband was pastor—in Presbyterian and Reformed Church of America churches in rural NC, Chicago IL, Ridgewood NJ, Bainbridge GA, Quincy FL, and Winchester VA. She spent her retirement years near family in Luray, Harrisonburg, and Timberville, and was patiently cared for by her community at Faith Lutheran Church. She and George were active volunteers in the National Alliance for Mental Illness for many years, they supported many causes of social justice, spiritual support for people, and loved people of all faiths, especially befriending refugees who crossed their path.

Janet will be deeply missed by family and friends. We are thankful for her life and love. We extend our appreciation to her many caregivers (Barbara, Vaunda, Doug, Yolo, Ruth), the workers at Living Waters ALF in Timberville (Megan, Mindy, Tiffany, Barb, and so many others), and New Century Hospice.

Lindsey Funeral Home in Harrisonburg is handling arrangements. Condolences may be sent to the family by visiting


  • There will be no formal services.

Janet Stewart Nickels

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Barbara Jenkins

December 22, 2018

I miss taking Janet for rides, playing cards and Scrabble, and eating ice cream with her. She loved good food, and could cheat at cards or Scrabble with a straight face. I never will forget the day we were to wash some dishes for you guys. I was not familiar with your machine, so I asked Janet where the soap was for it. She told me she used the dish detergent. When I asked how much to put in, she told me to fill the little door. I did, and we went into the dining room to play cards. I went back into the kitchen a little later to check on the machine. We had soap two feet out from it. We gave you guys a free kitchen floor washing, laughing like two little, naughty kids as we did. Wonderful memory!