Dorothy (Painter) (Hegge) Nickerson

May 2, 1920April 4, 2018

Dorothy (Painter) (Hegge) Nickerson, 97, of Thornton, Colorado passed away peacefully in Republic, Washington 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-granddaughters 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.


  • Troy Gardella
  • Bill Nicholson
  • Chris Hegge
  • Jean Pierre Trinque
  • Mike Davidson
  • Bob Nickerson


  • Visitation Thursday, April 19, 2018
  • Funeral Service Wednesday, May 2, 2018
  • Committal Service Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Dorothy (Painter) (Hegge) Nickerson

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Daria McGrath

May 8, 2018

We often thought of Dorothy as an Eveready bunny. She had bushels of energy and used it to build relations with her family members and friends. She was an in-charge person always making detailed plans that were accomplished whether it was making 12 dozen cookies for a church function or traveling to Burke SD to visit her mother. She lived her values through her volunteer work and she loved to travel and share her experiences. Katelin, (granddaughter) reminded us that Dorothy was a guest speaker in Erin’s (granddaughter) 4th-grade classroom. She told the children about her travels to Russia and showed the class mementos from Russia. She was a generous person always thinking of others. The lessons I learned from her were many. Most important among them was to not sit back and let life happen but to make life happen. She authored her life. She was very special in that she made dad’s (Nick) children and grandchildren her family. We all felt loved and we loved her.
Daria McGrath and family

Maribel Romo

May 2, 2018

I am truly sorry for your loss . I just wanted to give you guys a little hope in this hard time. I would like to share a bible scripture that has really consoled me John 5:28,29 . God promises that we will have the opportunity of seeing our loved ones again he promises resurrection .

I truly hope this brings you peace of mind


Ann Janvrin

April 27, 2018

My Grandma was Alice (Nickerson) Kline, Uncle Nick was my Grandma's brother, I loved when Uncle Nick & Aunt Dorothy came to Grandma's to visit. One time I came to Grandma's with a cross stitching kit. Dorothy was over joyed. Next thing I know just Dorothy and I were headed to the craft store for thread. She wanted to teach me more about stitching. I was all ears. 30 some years later, I am still doing cross stitch, I love it. She taught me many things, I use to this day. Thank you Aunt Dorothy..I Love You..Go with God..


April 26, 2018

I will never forget our times travelling in a Camper across the United States, all the way to Denver. Grandma taught me to iron clothes with out an Iron. We stopped all over, meeting family. To end up In Tea, SD for a family reunion. You showed me how to make Ice Cream the old fashion way of cranking that handle.You taught us to be grateful for what we had. You showed your love to us grandchildren with beautiful homemade Quilts. You showed me how to be strong and to never give up on your dreams..... I will miss our talks and you Grandma. You where truly an Inspiration.
Christopher Tyson Nickerson

Valarie Vawser Isley

April 26, 2018

A couple of times with Aunt Dorothy stand out for me. She was so enthralled with the musical western, “How the West was Won,” that she took me to see it. I believe she had seen it 5-6 times by then but she wanted to share that experience with me. The theater was as impressive as the movie, it was at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

She knew of my love of horses so, she took me to see the Lipizzaner Stallions in Hollywood. I am still grateful for that experience.

When Grandma Esther turned 100, my mother, Virginia, my sister Judy, Aunt Dorothy and I drove to South Dakota for the party. Mom and Aunt Dorothy sat in the back and laughed and carried on like school girls while I drove. They were so happy. It was heartwarming to see their friendship up close.

The last visit with Aunt Dorothy was when Bob and Betty brought her to Prescott. Mom was living at the Pioneer’s Home, which Mom and Dorothy had inspected and approved of years earlier. Aunty Dorothy was probably 91 and mom was 89. They were so happy to see one another one last time. Mom was getting rather weak but the visit cheered her up considerably.

My condolences to Bob, Carolyn and Chris. I know how much you loved her and will miss her.

Ming Wallenstein

April 23, 2018

My mother-in-law Lillian Wallenstein and I spent many months together caring for my father-in-law Alvin due to early Alzheimer and a severe staph infection.

During this time, Aunt Dorothy would visit. I learned from these visits how special Aunt Dorothy was and how very close Lillian and her were. Aunt Dorothy had an infectious laugh which made these days much easier to bear. I will never forget the wonderful times I spent with the two of them.

I admire Aunt Dorothy filled with energy, determination and kindness. After Lillian passed away, she drove all the way from Denver to our farm to visit Alvin in the nursing home. I offered to pick her up and drive her back to Denver but she didn’t want to burden to me. We traveled to visit her relatives near Custer South Dakota. This was her last long drive and I was fortunate to share it and be with her. I enjoyed listening to her colorful travel experiences particularly her visits to Russia to connect with her long-lost roots.

She is the best Aunt Richard and I ever had. Aunt Dorothy has a special place in my heart and I will never forget her.

Love, Ming Wallenstein

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