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Norma Nicholas remembered for family, friends, food

Renatta Signorini
| Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, 11:10 p.m.

Everyone loved being around Norma Nicholas.

Especially on Christmas night, when 50 to 60 people crammed into her home for a taste of the Syrian delicacies — including nearly 1,000 stuffed grape leaves — that she and family members made days earlier on a long table in her Irwin kitchen.

“On Christmas night, we would just go down there and eat and drink,” said niece Lisa Stewart of Irwin. “She loved that.”

A vibrant, caring woman who doted on her large family, Ms. Norma J. Nicholas died Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, at Walnut Ridge Memory Care in Hempfield after a battle with Alzheimer's disease. She was 83.

She was born July 20, 1934, in Irwin, to the late Moses and Marion (Joseph) Nicholas.

Ms. Nicholas worked for decades as a licensed insurance agent for Duncan Insurance Group, Malt Insurance Agency and Koury Insurance Agency before retiring at age 76, Stewart said.

The work fit her personality perfectly.

“She always said she worked for insurance, but she was a people person,” said sister-in-law Laura Nicholas of North Huntingdon, Stewart's mother.

Family members described Ms. Nicholas as a fun-loving woman who enjoyed gambling, watching Steelers games and taking family trips to the beach and Las Vegas. When she was home, she'd have dinner twice weekly after work at the Jacktown Ride and Hunt Club in North Huntingdon.

“She had more friends than any person I have ever met in my in entire life,” Stewart said.

Ms. Nicholas found a friend early on in Laura Nicholas, who later married one of Ms. Nicholas' brothers, Isaac. Ms. Nicholas, in an orchid gown, served as maid of honor at their June 1960 wedding.

She was “like more my sister than my sister-in-law,” Laura Nicholas recalled. “She knew everybody in Irwin. Everybody knew her. She was so vibrant and such a good person.”

Ms. Nicholas always had a birthday card and monetary gift at the ready for her friends and more than 30 nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews, her family said.

“She was just so generous with them,” Stewart said. “She was just a very kind, very giving person.”

Many of those family members gathered during the weekend to put together photographs of their beloved aunt and tell stories.

“We have a lot of good memories,” Laura Nicholas said.

Ms. Nicholas was preceded in death by sisters, Sara Ustazewski, Mary Weaver and Annie Nicholas; brothers, Anthony, Isaac, Joseph, Kenneth, Michael and Frederick Nicholas and Albert Viziola.

She is survived by two sisters-in-law, Laura Nicholas and Norma Nicholas of Penn; numerous nieces and nephews and friend Diane Harker.

Visitation will be held 2 to 4 and 6 to 9 p.m. Monday at Ott Funeral Home, 805 Pennsylvania Ave., Irwin. Memorial prayers will be held at the funeral home at 7:30 p.m. Monday and 10 a.m. Tuesday. A funeral service will begin at 11 a.m. Tuesday in St. Michael's Orthodox Church, 1182 Ashland St., Greensburg. Interment will follow in the Irwin Union Cemetery, North Huntingdon.

Memorial donations may be made to the church.

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-837-5374, or via Twitter @byrenatta.

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