Dorothy (Painter) (Hegge) Nickerson

May 2, 1920April 4, 2018

Dorothy (Painter) (Hegge) Nickerson, 97, of Thornton, CO passed away peacefully in Republic, WA on April 4th, 2018. She was born on May 2nd, 1920 in South Dakota. Daughter, sister, aunt, wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, friend and mentor are all words that describe Dorothy, yet she was so much more. She was a walking piece of history. She grew up during the great depression, was a secretary for Ronald Reagan and danced with Lawrence Welk. Her thirst for adventure and love of different cultures led her to travel all over the world. On her many adventures and family research trips she toured countries including the Holy Lands of Jerusalem, Russia, Australia and most of the European countries. Dorothy was a generous woman who was always willing to lend a hand to anyone in need or to offer her worldly advice. She truly lived life to the fullest. Born Dorothy Phyllis Painter on May 2nd, 1920 on the family farm in South Dakota, she was the oldest of 4 children. She graduated from Burke High School in 1938 and began to work for a lawyer in town. She soon married Felix Hegge in 1939. During World War II her husband Felix went into the service and was sent to Germany. At this time, Dorothy decided to move to Sioux City, Iowa to be close to her mother. On June 1st, 1942 Dorothy and Felix’s only son Robert was born. After the war, they moved to Burke, South Dakota where Felix worked as a mechanic while Dorothy did secretarial work. In 1949 they made a big move to Venice, California where they embraced the Southern California lifestyle enjoying the beaches. She went to work for the Southern Counties Gas Company. Dorothy and Felix divorced in 1956. Still adventurous and full of energy she became very active in local politics, her community and her church. She helped found “Big Sisters” in Southern California working hand in hand with Actor/Comedian Carol Burnett. She sponsored several young women and opened her home to women in need of temporary shelter. In 1960, her son, “Bobbie” enlisted in the Air Force and during his term of duty was stationed in Spain. Dorothy joined Bob and his wife in Spain in 1964 and the 3 of them toured Europe. They met many relatives and there Dorothy began research on the family line. She became a member of “Germans from Russia” and was very active in researching and collecting data. She was full of knowledge of our family history as she successfully documented our family lineage as far back as 1200 AD. This activity became a passion that continued well into the year 2000. While living in Culver City, California in 1965, Dorothy met and married Clifford “Nick” Nickerson. Nick became a mortician and together they managed his business in West Hollywood while Dorothy continued to work for the gas company until her retirement in 1982. Shortly after, Nick traveled to Colorado, bought a house and moved his wife from Southern California to Colorado. They lived happily in Thornton, Colorado until Nick passed away in February of 1997. Dorothy stayed in the family home for many years with the help of her beloved “Faith Hands” before deciding to move to Sunny Acres Independent Living in Denver. She was a resident there until the Spring of 2008 when she was relocated to Republic, Washington near her son’s home where she spent the remainder of her life. Dorothy is survived by Son: Robert Hegge and daughter-in-law Betty, grandson Robert (Chris) Hegge; spouse Amy and great-granddaughter Lauren (3), granddaughter Carolyn Gardella; spouse Troy and great-daughters Morgan (25) and Payton (Birdie) (19). Step-son: Robert Nickerson; spouse Renee and grandson Robert (Robbie) (35), granddaughter April Nickerson and great-grandson Noah (8), granddaughter Amy Gazzanigo spouse: Steve and great-grandson Tyler (19) and great granddaughter Sydney (14), grandson Dean Sodek: spouse Kara and great-granddaughters Katie (8) and Grace (6). Step-daughter Nancy McCollum. Step-daughter Daria McGrath; spouse Matt and grandson Justin McGrath; spouse Kimberly and great-grandson Maddox (11), granddaughter Erin Apedaile and great-granddaughter Phoenix (11), granddaughter Katelin McGrath. Grandson Jean-Pierre Trinque; spouse Rasha and great grandson Zane Gabriel (2), Grandson Christopher Tyson Nickerson …….as well as many beloved nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

A visitation for Dorothy will be held Thursday, April 19, 2018 from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM at Olinger Highland Mortuary & Cemetery, 10201 Grant Street, Thornton, Colorado 80229. A funeral service will occur Wednesday, May 2, 2018 at 12:00 PM at Crossroads Baptist Church, 10451 Huron Street, Northglenn, Colorado 80234. A committal service will occur Wednesday, May 2, 2018 at 2:30 PM, 10201 Grant Street, Thornton, Colorado 80229.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations in Dorothy's name to the Alzheimer's Association at or 1-800-272-3900.

Fond memories of Dorothy and expressions of sympathy for her family may be shared at the guest book below.


  • Troy Gardella
  • Brian Kalber
  • Bill Nicholson
  • Chris Hegge
  • Jean Pierre Trinque
  • Mike Davidson


2 May

Funeral Service

12:00 p.m.

Crossroads Baptist Church

10451 Huron Street
Northglenn, Colorado 80234

2 May

Committal Service

2:30 p.m.

Olinger Highland Cemetery

10201 Grant Street
Thornton, Colorado 80229


  • Visitation Thursday, April 19, 2018

Dorothy (Painter) (Hegge) Nickerson

have a memory or condolence to add?


receive updates when new memories are posted

Richard Wallenstein

April 21, 2018

My mother Lillian Nickerson Wallenstein was a sister of Dorothy's husband, Nick. Aunt Dorothy and my mother were very close. She visited my parents on our farm in South Dakota many times. During her visits she would bring Chris and Carolyn. They would play with my children Jenna and Kirsten. Aunt Dorothy was such a joy to be around and my mother loved her like a sister.

Love from the Wallenstein family

Connie (Painter) Gallagher

April 15, 2018

Dear Aunt Dorothy what a character you are. My memories of you are being energetic, humorous, outgoing, outspoken and traveling about the World! And what a memory of dates and family birthdays. You were always on the quest to find our family roots even before Ancestry dot com. I really believe you helped spark the travel bug in me. You were also the 'Cool Aunt' who lived in California. I know you made many friends in your life from volunteer work, Southern Gas and Electric, Churches you attended, Women's Investment Group and even a Jury Duty Pool!
Yes, you were very LOVED.
God Bless you now in your travels throughout the Heavens.
My love and heartfelt sympathy to Bob, Betty and all the family.
Love, Connie (Painter) Gallagher